Lydster: On being a dad

The book The Expectant Father

Lydia and Roger

I was rearranging my books, frankly, to make room for more. I came across two books on being a dad. One or both of them were given to me by a dad at my church. He doesn’t attend anymore, so I don’t see him often, even though he and his family are still in town.

One was Thinking Pregnant by Megan V. Steelman (2001). The subtitle was Conceiving Your New Life With A Baby. Chapter 10 is called Dads. One subtitle, Will I Be Any Good at This? And the next one, A Father Has Feelings Too.  It talks about jealousy, a feeling I do not recall having. Journaling was recommended, and I believe I’ve been doing that for nearly 18 years. To my knowledge, the tome has not been updated.

The other book was The Expectant Father by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash. My copy from 2001 is the second edition; the fifth edition, which  I have not seen, came out in 2021. It was very entertaining as it went through the nine months and how the relationship between the couple might change. A subhead: “Oh my God, I’m going to be a father.”

A new day

The chapter most interesting to me was Fathering Today. The authors note the absence of fathers or dads portrayed negatively. It listed a series of ads that irritated me even before I was a parent. “Kid tested mother approved” (Kix cereal). “Choosy mother choose Jif.” Robitussin cold medicines “recommended by Dr. Mom.”

Armin Brott also talked about how men’s involvement is discouraged. He wrote in a New York Times Magazine piece about catching a girl who was screaming. As she fell from a playground slide, he caught her. The mother, coming on the scene, said to the child, “Didn’t I tell you not to talk to strange men in the park?” I’m sure I wrote about this on these pages.

As he notices he’s the only man in the park, he recognized that he’d become the stereotyped menacing male. Indeed, I was at a party in Albany’s suburbs a couple of decades ago. The guy who gave me the books and I went for a walk and instinctively stayed away from the kids playing close to the road. We did not want to be perceived as THOSE guys.

Being a dad is joyful, stressful, confusing, and rewarding. My daughter is pretty remarkable because of, or possibly despite, me.

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