The following blog will be an ongoing Guyville series on the trials, tribulations and joys of fatherhood and hopefully a humorous education offering some fun insight into how fatherhood and the roles of the patriarch have changed in the last couple of generations. My qualifications to write this are simple. I've been married for over ten years. I have procreated. I have ridden the ride and during my ten years of marriage I had suffered a bit at certain pinnacle times during our history together. Ultimately at a point where my marriage appeared to be history I began to live these commandments, slowly and steadily and years later I've come to a place that I didn't know could exist for me. And that's a really really awesome place on any given day (which is, in all honesty, about eighty percent of the time - let's face it, anyone who is euphoric on a daily basis is Ned Flanders, and nobody wants to be Ned Flanders!) It wasn't always this way as I was clearly always a man's man. Everyone understands what that means and I had to go through, and am still discovering along the journey of marriage and fatherhood - that there are changes and sacrifices from our end (yeah, you Captain Cocksure). These commandments that I hand down to you will be a great guide and reference for you if you are considering having a child, are almost there with a baby on the way, or if you've been a dad for years.
FATHERHOOD COMMANDMENT #1: THOU SHALT BE INVOLVED.
Now at first sight, this might seem like a really simple commandment. Change some diapers - hopefully not too many, make some cool car engine sounds in your throat while you fly a pink or blue plastic kiddie spoon with some apple goop on it into your kid's mouth, basically just split the duties and everyone is happy, right? Well while that's the right idea, we are still in a relatively new evolving phase of time right now. In reality the idea of 50/50 parenting is less than thirty years old. Ask yourself how involved was your father? Even if he was off the charts on top of his game, if you were born anytime before 1975 it is really likely that he changed less than ten percent of the diapers and handled less than twenty percent of the child rearing. My Dad proudly reminds all of us kids that he never changed a diaper and we turned out all right.
Here's some further philosophy on co-parenting in the twenty first century...let's paint a real scenario for you now...
So the two pronounced pink lines were clear as day on the pregnancy test. You popped open the bottle of Martinelli's and celebrated with tears of joy, and mutually agreed not to tell any family members until the end of the first trimester... Well at least the first month anyway. Once you successfully navigate your way through the first trimester, it's time to celebrate with all of your closest relatives and friends, go through the maze of new genetic tests the doctors' put you through, not to mention the gestational diabetes scare, out-do the Jones' baby room at least a good three months before the due date and cap it all off by having the baby shower soiree of all baby shower soirees. WHEW!!
At last your pride and joy is delivered, more healthy and beautiful than you could have dreamed. Congratulations. You've done it. You are parents. You have joined an elite group and suddenly being exhausted from a hard day at work just isn't an option anymore, for either of you. Maternity leave will unfortunately be short and sweet, and once Mom is back to the grind, the interesting question raised will most likely be, "We both work full time, so why is it that the bulk of parenting responsibility is still on Mom?"
The answer is that we as a society have not quite made the transition into true co-parenting yet. A mere fifty years ago, Dad brought home the bacon and Mom took care of the kids. The roles were clearly defined for each individual. But as times changed and the cost of living blew through the roof, it became impossible for most families to survive on a single family income. However, fifty years isn't that long of a history, and the majority of men are still reluctant to embrace the true responsibility of co-parenting. Perhaps it's the poor advice coming from their fathers and grandfathers, or because it's still new, men just don't know what it is they should do.
(to be continued)