Sunday, March 7, 2010

On Fatherhood

     Since I found out Heidi was pregnant with Sam, our first pregnancy, I have tried to figure out what it means to be a father. It was devestating to go through a miscarrage as a dad;  I cannot imagine what it is like for a mom. I didn't know how to get excited or think about being a dad when we were pregnant with Edmund, because I was afraid he too would end in miscarraige. Here I am again, with Phoebs on the way, due sometime in September, trying to figure out who I am and what I'm supposed to be as a father.
     Before Edmund was born, I reserved about 25 books from the library on being a dad. I was rather discouraged to find that the major theme of them was dads are "fun" and we are back-up when moms can't take it anymore. I couldn't get through the second chapter on any of them before the sports and fishing references made me ill. There is nothing wrong with those bonding experiences that it seems most fathers enjoy with their children, but it is not who I am. I got very discouraged thinking that I would be a horrible father because I don't care to participate in those activities. People tell me "Edmund is going to be a linebacker!" I don't even know what that is. Maybe he will be in Hunting and Jumping? "Edmund is a brut and likes rough and tumble stuff." Maybe he will become a dancer with that strength. So if I'm not outdoorsy, I don't shoot things or catch them by hooks and could care less about sports then what FUN can I have with my children if FUN is all I've been given?
     It sounds like I'm trying to compete with Heidi for some role in our children's lives. In fact, I might have been a little. There aren't many books written for dads like me (the crunchy, Christian, broadway, indoorsy type) and so there wasn't a lot of comfort for me from those who have been there in regards to things like nursing, crying and more. I really want to be an involved father but when society hands you FUN it is hard to hold on to that desire when all the child wants is Mommy. I am extremely happy that we decided that nursing would be best for our family. In fact, as I learn more I don't understand why anyone would purchase formula or babyfood (except of course in extreme cases). Nursing did not incorporate me as I had imagined. In high school and college I frequently gave babies bottles and loved that interaction; I couldn't wait to do that with my children. So I don't want to compete with mom, I want to be uniquely a dad...but still wanting to know what that means.  A friend recently reminded me, "You are one flesh so you should praise God when your son wants his mother." Gives perspective that I do not have to compete but simply enjoy.
     Aside from FUN, the books and things I have seen say that dads have the big talks. The 'Dont Do Drugs' 'Stay in School'... The message then just becomes fun moments and serious ones. Another friend once told me, "Life happens in the details." I believe the big talks I will have with my children will only be recieved if I take advantage of the 'details.' There seems to be large parts of being a dad missing from books, magazines, TV and everything else.
     So I'm still learning and looking. Still trusting God... (especially since we have entered the stage where Edmund likes to throw everything he can pick up and has a fit whenever he doesn't get his way.)
Thank you for reading,

1 comment:

Stephanie B said...

Dennis- thanks for sharing your thoughts; I always appreciate your transparency. I think that each of us is uniquely gifted by God with different talents and interests. Just because you don't like sports/outdoors doesn't mean you can't share your love of music/art/indoors with your children. I feel for you, there seems to be such a disadvantage if all the books (esp the Christian ones) are so one-sided or biased (take comfort- almost all the women's books are about motherhood and fru-fru girly stuff... and some of us women are not like that either). My point is, you are not alone, and that who YOU are can contribute to Edmund and "Phoebs"'s upbringings just as much as what Heidi brings to the table. We all have different roles, but together... well, God brings out the whole! Keep digging into the principles behind what it means to be a man (and NOT just "being manly" as the stereotypes run) and share that with Edmund as he grows. Teach your kids to love the Lord- show them what that means, and embrace all the freedom that we have in Christ to be who He made us to be. Enjoy the journey! Also- I love your commitment to the "details" of life- right on target, brother.