This blog is something I’ve aimed at Dads. Some of what I’ve covered and discussed is pretty universal to the parenting experience, but I’m writing to Dads because that’s the situation I find myself in, as it happens. I’m also writing to Dads because no one else really seems to, at least not at length and certainly not about some of the more mental and/or emotional issues surrounding fatherhood. As much as it might irk me that this is the state of things, I can’t lie to myself and say I don’t understand it.

If I were to want to write a baby book and have the highest possible chance of it being read by the most people in need, would I write a book for the 49% of the population for whom raising a baby is, if we’re being honest, optional? Or would I write for the 51% who don’t have much of a choice?

Mothers are a justifiably motivated crowd. For nine entire months, their careful stewardship of the little baby in their belly will have direct and noticeable consequences on that child when he is born. In contrast, Dad can choose to abstain from drinking booze along with Mommy. Maybe. Except when he goes out with the guys. And the when the game is on. And if it’s Guinness, because Guinness rules. If Mom, though, chooses to indulge in something proscribed at just the wrong moment, perhaps a neural tube doesn’t form properly and then suddenly we’re talking about a baby with a permanent limp. Or worse.

An involved Dad will of course be much more valuable than that in the baby process, even though technically all he really has to do to be involved in the process is be sweaty and naked (that’s optional, actually) for a minimum of 60 or so seconds. But this is a choice he makes and simply by being enthused he is showered with praise. Mom has the weight of infinite potential on her shoulders—and it’s just taken for granted that she’ll take it on the chin. Vitamins to remember. Foods to avoid. Foods to consume. Exercise to perform and to not perform. Supplies to buy. Books to read. Assuming that Mommy is jazzed about an upcoming baby, she has a lot to do. She can wing it, sure… but it’s probably not an awesome idea.

For all my focus on Dads and my principle of empowering the notion of Dad as an equal player in the parenting process, it’s important not to forget how much Mom accomplishes on her own before the baby arrives. Once that baby has arrived, a more or less 50/50 split can really be achieved and Dad can be an equal player and deserving of such recognition. But beforehand? Even the superest of Superdads is riding shotgun.

So, Janelle, thank you for spending nine vigilant months making sure that Joshua would be born healthy and happy. You changed large swaths of your normal life and gave up many little things that you love to do, and it paid off. We have a very healthy, fully thriving little man. He may look the way he does because we provided the ingredients together, but he’s healthy because you made him that way. It’s not terribly likely that Joshua will have this realization, and by the time he might be aware of it, he’ll be old enough to feel responsible for his own well-being.

But I’ll always know who made him perfect.

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  1. #1 by Chelsea on August 16, 2010 - 7:28 PM

    so much love

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