Daddy reading

6 Aug

I’ve basically read two books about fathering so far, one that fits the high-information high-crazy-factor category, and the other which is really fun, funny and readable. Thanks for that first one, Dr. D!

The truth is, it’s not the authors’ fault, Armin Brott and Jennifer Ash. The Expectant Father is a whole franchise, and the dude is Mr. Fucking Dad himself. Still, here’s what’s going on with my partner, emotionally, in month 4:

  • Great excitement when she sees the sonogram
  • Worries about miscarriage are beginning to fade
  • Concerned about what it really means to be a mother
  • Continuing forgetfulness and mood swings
  • Increasingly dependent on you – needs to know you’ll be there for her, that you still love her
  • She may get very depressed when her regular clothes stop fitting her and may become nearly obsessed with her appearance

These kinds of lists are, I know, meant to be helpful. But they are not just descriptive (what to expect), they are aggressively prescriptive (if she’s not experiencing these things, is something wrong?!?). I’m concerned if my partner becomes depressed, and now I’m also fucking concerned if she doesn’t become depressed.

Later, a two-page list of ‘Ways to Show Her You Care’, which includes such valuable tips as:

  • Smile and nod agreeably when she says, “You have no idea what it’s like to be pregnant”
  • Say “No” if she asks if she’s acting crazy; and my personal favorite
  • (and my personal favorite) Take the day off from work and hang around the house with her.

Otherwise, I’m supposed to focus on money. You know what, Mr. Dad? Go to hell.

On the other hand, I highly recommend Michael Lewis’ book Home Game. This book is basically a compilation of his articles written for Slate, a combination of his Dad Again series and his I see France series, so you can just read them online instead of buying the book. But I loved the book. It’s a super-easy read, and aside from the fact that Lewis has an immensely readable style, the stories are great. The one on chicken pox is great, and monsters is even better. A little excerpt:

I glare at my children, they glare back at me. They think I am weak, I decide. They want to play hardball; they don’t know what hardball is. They will now learn. Yet another generous neighbor has brought us yet another extravagant dessert: a ginger and molasses cake, topped with whipped cream. But they are grounded: no desserts for a week. In better times I might sympathize with their predicament. I might toss them a crumb. At the very least I would sneak my cake later, alone. Not now. I cut myself a large piece and crown it with whipped cream, all the while feeling two pairs of eyes tracking me around the kitchen. Heaping great dollops of molasses and whipped cream onto my plate, I sit back down. Their own sad plates are decorated with cold, half-eaten vegetables.

I coat the first bite in whipped cream, swipe it once through the molasses, and, slowly, raise the fork to my mouth. Then I see Dixie’s face. Her lower lip trembles and tears stream down her sweet little face. It’s an involuntary response to a horrible realization: Daddy doesn’t care. He’s going to inhale his yummy dessert even though he knows Dixie can’t have any. It takes a few seconds for the sobbing to kick in, as she runs from the room.

“See what you did, Daddy!” shouts Quinn, chasing after her.

So it seems that my sensibilities tend to be actively hostile to the high-information, high-anxiety books, and highly amenable to the ‘oops, we are screwing up the baby’ books. Go figure.

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