Monday, June 11, 2007

Is Being Your Baby's Daddy All That Important?

I've come to the realization that I am, in fact, one of those bloggers. Oh, you know the type... they only blog about the exciting stuff they do or complain about how the entire world, no, the entire universe, has had numerous secret meetings behind the Applebee's to plot against them and crush their every dream. You know... those irritating bloggers. Yeah, I'm one of those.

Why have I come to this realization? Well, I haven't posted anything in over a week and while I have this nagging feeling like I should be posting something, I just can't muster the strength needed to waddle over to my laptop and type something inane into my text editor. I mean, what would I write? Would I blog about the coworker that is slowly eroding the sanity of everyone in my office, like some H.P. Lovecraftian horror? Would I blog about my dissatisfaction with my current telephone, a dissatisfaction that stems less from any issues with its ability to make calls, but more from my boredom with it? Or, would I draw up some elaborate blog post about how my son's slavish devotion to apple juice is making me angry, yes angry, at apples themselves, as if those fist sized fruits were somehow trying to steal my son's affection from me?

This is what you may not know about those bloggers. Sure, you get irritated with them when you visit their pages, day after day, only to find that nothing has changed. But, have you ever considered that their inability to post, their shocking laziness compared to other, more prolific bloggers, is actually a gift to you. Tell me the truth, would you rather read about my mind-numbing crankiness with my cell phone or would you rather I didn't post anything at all? Yeah, I thought so too. That's why it's been a week without any updates.

Not surprisingly, I've been thinking a little about Father's Day and what it means to me this year. Last year, I asked if I deserved it. Was I a good enough father to merit a day to celebrate my skills in child-rearing? This year, for whatever reason, I've been thinking more about society's views of fatherhood, a much bigger topic than I could hope to touch on in a blog post.

Several months ago, maybe even longer than that, I was having coffee with a friend of mine. We were discussing the challenges we had encountered since becoming fathers, the particular hurdles that had been tripping us up, and he made a startling confession to me. He and his wife had adopted two beautiful girls from China, but he was ashamed about needing to adopt. You see, he was struggling with the idea that because he was unable to get his wife pregnant, he wasn't a real man.

At first, I thought he was joking. I might have even laughed at him, since I'm sensitive like that, but he was very serious. We spoke in hushed tones, that morning, whispering into our coffee cups, trying to make sure the cute girl with the pastry tongs didn't overhear our man-speak.

I have another friend, father of an adorable daughter, who also carries a sense of shame. You see, he is troubled by the fact that his family name will die with him, unless he "sires" a boy. His daughter, although wonderful, won't carry his admittedly strange name into the future. If his family name is to continue, he needs a boy and time is running out. He explains this fact with a voice that continually rises in volume, his tone growing more and more stretched as he speaks.

What the hell is going on here? Is this the 21st century or is it the 17th century?

I know, I know... men have it easy when it comes to child birth. If pop culture is to be believed, we also have it easy when it comes to being a parent, as our job is simply to organize the garage, repeat "go ask your mother," and pray that our Viagra kicks in when the "time is right." With our jobs being so simple, so easy, of course we have to be saddled with some sort of weird insecurity, but does it have to be this? Haven't we passed the time when our worth is measured not in our abilities to parent, but our abilities to "father?"

Maybe this is where we're headed. Maybe, in a society where a term like "baby daddy" had to be coined, we need these old fashioned insecurities to come back into vogue. Maybe, with women becoming more and more independent, men suddenly feel like they have to contribute something unique to be valued. Or, maybe I just hang out with a strange bunch of knuckle-draggers. I just don't know.

Any thoughts on this topic?

11 comments:

creative-type dad said...

I don't see anything wrong with not getting the wife pregnant and adopting. I see it as an extremely noble thing to do.

As for the 'passing the name deal' - I have a girl and haven't really put any thought into passing my name into future generations. The way I look at it, there are already too many people with my last name. I'm more concerned about leaving some kind of good impression on my kid and future family so I won't be forgotten in 2 generations.

p-man said...

"I'm sensitive like that." Priceless.

I think it is difficult to be a dad because of the naked emotionalism required to be present and available for these helpless little people, in the face of decades of social conditioning which teaches the contray and... fuck, I don't know. What do you take me for? Some kind of pussy? I have to leave NOW and produce a male child with my barefoot wife. Goodbye.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Please don't blog about your crankiness with your cell phone or worse no blog at all... you celebrate life more than me, and any of your fellow bloggers. Look at this post, it's so well written and filled with compassion!

DJ Kirkby said...

I believe that the most important part of being a father is not just about contributing to half of your child's genetic makeup. Being a good father means good parenting not just providing sperm. Look around at all the fantastic step fathers and adoptive fathers there are who love and support and parent their non -biological children, guiding them and helping them to develop into their full potential. An excellent post about a significant topic, thank you.

Sandy said...

Honestly, I don't care what you blog about. Whatever I happen to read helps me pass the day as a stay at home mom (since my son is more than happy to run away from me and play by himself in his room).

As for father's and father's day...first off your one friend has to realize that it isn't sperm that makes a father. Many males create children, but very few are fathers and dads. Sperm has nothing to do with it. On a side note about this...I find it funny that men want to be "manly" because they need to get a mate or keep one...yet no one asks women what they think are manly qualities...and ultimately us women are usually the ones that are men are trying to impress...

For the second friend...point out that even if he did have a son, said son may have more "modern" thinking and marry a "modern" woman and decided to give their child(ren) a completely different and made up last name (yes, it happens, my BIL and his wife are two of those "modern" people and aren't sure if their future children will carry his, her, or a totally new last name)...so the whole "no one to carry my name" really doesn't apply anymore.

As far as deserving father's day...if you take care of your family, love your kids, play with them when you can...you deserve it.

Dad Stuff said...

When I am dead and gone, my last name isn't going to do anyone any good. I hope that I can pass on something more important to my children. Something that will teach them to be caring and helpful citizens. A sense of responsibility and morals will do better to ensure a long family history regardless of name. This applies to adoption as well. Whether biological or adopted, children are your family. A father's actions reach well beyond his life. They live on in his children and grandchildren.

Mitch McDad said...

Interesting thoughts DD. I think the role of "father" has changed so dramatically in the last 30 years that we're al in the process of refining it.

When my dad looked up as he was feeding my oldest daughter a bottle, he said, "Hey, I've never fed a baby before." And he had 3 kids. He also never changed a diaper.

Being adopted myself, I agreed with Creative-Type about adoption, and regardless, impregnating someone has zero correlation with manliness, as is evidenced by the "baddy daddy" phrase that's become so popular.

And as for some weird surname surviving, you said it best...tell your friend to turn the page.

Lainey-Paney said...

I was adopted by my dad.
My mom is my birth mother, but my dad was her 4th husband.

He's the one that taught me to ride a bike.

He's the one that greeted my dates at the door.

He's the one that gave me away on my wedding day.

That's what being a dad means to me.
He's the one that I can turn to in a time of need. He may not agree with me at times, and he will tell me so. But, he supports me when I need it.

He does not have any of his own biological children. Does it make him feel inferior? I have no idea. I just know that he's my dad.

CaliforniaGirl said...

Anyone can be a father, it takes a real man to be a Daddy.

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

Hey, I came over from Creative Dad and I wanted to chime in how much I enjoyed this post. I am too tired and infected with 4 year old germs to actually ponder your deep thoughts right now, but wanted to say hi. And P.S. we're in Denver too!

Drew's Dad said...

I really don't think the role of a father has changed at all. I think society's ideas of what it means to be a father have changed; but the REAL role of a father hasn't changed a bit. Society says you're just a sperm donor and then you can leave. In reality, your kids need you to be there to love them, protect them, spend time with them, and teach them how to fish, throw a knuckleball, drive a car, etc.
Great blog; I really appreciate your writing.