Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thoughts on Fatherhood

I don't want this blog to be about parenthood, but that is consuming my life at the moment. There is no escape. I do however use my son as a subject for photography, so I will continue to pepper my posts with those images and stay within the spirit of this blog.

I didn't have too many thoughts about fatherhood or theories on raising children before my son was born. In fact, I didn't even read the "Baby Book." I think it may have had something to do with the movie Knocked Up. I really didn't like it when Katherine Heigl freaked out on Seth Rogan for not reading the book. As if reading that book qualifies someone to be a good parent. Not the best reason, I know. So, I basically didn't know what to expect while my wife was expecting.

However, I couldn't get Dave Chappelle's take on having a son out of my head.  During one of his better standup bits, Chappelle talks about how moved he was when his son brought home a macaroni necklace he "made for Daddy." Dave was really touched, sat his son down on his knee and commented, "You used to live in my balls! And now you're making me a macaroni necklace?!" The humor of this sentiment aside, it really is mind-blowing. While I hadn't thought too much about being a dad, I really wanted my own "Dave Chappelle" moment. And I still look forward to having them.

I can't believe it has been one whole month since my son was born. I can't believe I have a son. In one furious second, I went from barely being responsible for myself to being responsible for another human being. That is just as scary as it sounds, but like they say, high risk-high reward.

I sometimes imagine what the younger version of me would think of all that is happening right now. These thoughts seem to surface the most during diaper changes. The 23 year old me might say something like, "Wow. You are cleaning your kid's crap? That kid should be cleaning your crap. Let's ditch the diaper and hit up the club, old man!" The new Dad version of me thinks, "Wow. I am cleaning my kid's crap. This is so awesome." Notice there is no exclamation point at the end of that statement. I am human after all. Having said that, I am enjoying things about fatherhood that I imagined I would pretty much hate including, yes, the dreaded dirty diapers. To clarify, it's not the process I enjoy, rather the end result of a cleaner and happier baby.

After marriage, parenthood is about the most unnatural thing in the world. As human beings, I believe we are wired to act in our self-interest. It's a survival thing. Caring for a baby goes against every instinct designed to preserve life. It might not make much of a difference for me to fall asleep in the wee hours while feeding my kid here in suburbia, but if I was a caveman in the woods, that momentary dozing could cost me my life. According to the principles of evolution, bad parents who neglect their children should make up a larger population of the gene pool. They had more energy and were more alert, key factors to survival. Despite these thoughts, when my son flashes me a little smile in the morning, it makes up for everything and my exhaustion goes away. Just kidding. It's just a temporary high, and then I go right back to being tired.

I have enjoyed my time at home with my son, and I feel blessed to have been able to spend every single day of the past month with him. I thought it would drive me crazy, but I am finding that I actually a bit sad to head back to work. After two years of tired trekking, I feel as if I have reached an oasis in the middle of the desert. I have imagined this day for a while, but it now seems bittersweet. The words of Lance Armstrong have stuck with me and encouraged me during the last leg of my journey:

"What you learn in survivorship is that after all the shouting is done, after the desperation and crisis is over, after you have accepted the fact of your illness and celebrated the return of your health, the old routines and habits, like shaving in the morning with a purpose, a job to go to, and a wife to love and a child to raise, these are the threads that tie your days together and that give them the pattern deserving of the term "a life.""

Life is good.


Observing my nephew meet his cousin for the first time was kind of interesting. I think they hit it off and will be good friends. I feel like it wasn't all that long ago since my brother and I used to ride our bikes around the neighborhood and play wiffleball in front of the house. Those were the days. A simpler time, when video games only had two buttons, gas was under a dollar...

1 comment:

  1. I guess Lance didn't really like his every day threads of "life". Didn't he divorce and re-marry several times? Leaving Sheryl Crow after she was diagnosed with breast cancer? You love that guy, huh?