[Note: The first several posts will be back-dated, as they were written before we were telling people we were pregnant]
If you're here then you probably already know this, but I'll start with it anyway:
I'm gonna be a dad!!!
Whoo, that feels good to write down. It feels a little more real just having it on the page in front of me. Jen (my wife) is 9 weeks in, and Alpaca Llama Furia (the baby's itinerant name until we find out the gender) is the size of a grape. I don't think I'll ever look at grapes the same way again; or gummy bears (week 8), or blueberries (week 7), or lentils (week 6), or… well now I'm hungry, but you get the point. You see, everything takes on a stupid amount of gravitas when you find out you’re pregnant. Suddenly your mind relates every object you encounter back to this one thing, leading to a constant stream of "profound" realizations:
- Eating lunch with Jen: "Woah, Alpaca is like, eating whatever you eat."
- Starting the car: "Woah, we need a vehicle that will fit, you know, baby stuff."
- Breathing: "Woah, I wonder if Alpaca has lungs yet."
You feel like a stoner deconstructing the universe. The world is your Rorschach test and all blots point to baby.
Probably born of this faux gravitas is my desire to start a blog. I have two main objectives. First and obviously, I want to capture all these thoughts and experiences. They may or may not make for good reading, but the exhibitionist in me will be much better about blogging than journaling. Future Me is the true target audience for this blog, but if a couple other people can enjoy it too, all the better!
The second reason is a little less fully formed at present. It's a trend that's been on my mind a lot lately, and it has to do with the title of this blog.
"The Daddening" is ripped off wholesale from "The Daddening of Video Games", a 2010 article by Stephen Totilo. It's really good, and worth a quick read before continuing here. Assuming you're just bulldozing along with this post (lazy), I'll summarize: In the article Stephen points out that “being a dad is becoming nearly as popular in video games as health bars and shotguns". He attributes this to a) the changing life stages of gamers and game developers, and b) the motivating power of a paternal relationship. Certainly the intervening years have continued to prove him right--they've given us Red Dead Redemption, Dead Rising 2, The Walking Dead, The Last of Us, and many more--but I think there's more going on here.
I think that our culture as a whole is undergoing a reinvention a of Fatherhood. Or rather, I think it's completing a reinvention of fatherhood that started a long time ago, but stalled out somewhere along the way. Or rather, I think it's reinventing the vacuum left by the last reinvention which never really fully reinvented itself.
See, I told you it wasn't fully formed yet. Let's try this another way…
In the 50s and early 60s the role of dad was to be, essentially, the benevolent dictator of the family unit. He made all the money, made all the decisions, and made an example of anyone who dared lip back. Over time our culture rejected that idea as overly-simple and extremely toxic, but just because you've REJECTED something doesn't mean you've REPLACED it. This created a vacuum that ushered in what I'll call the Sit-Com Era for dads. It's not a new idea to point out the abundance of bumbling father figures on TV, but I don't think it's a result of The Media's Attack on the Traditional Family Unit (sorry Fox News). I think it reflects a genuine loss of identity for fatherhood in our culture. We moved away from something bad, but not towards something better, and in the absence of a clear definition for fatherhood, it's role in society sank to some blend of "over-grown kid" and "less-competent mom".
And that's as far as fatherhood has evolved in the past 50 years. At least, until recently.
The Rookie Force
I think there's a new generation of dads emerging (heralded by Stephen's article) that will reclaim and reinvent fatherhood for our entire culture. I see dads taking more ownership of their role then ever before, and I see more guys who aren't dads expressing positive aspirations rather than disillusionment. At first I thought it was paternal blue car syndrome, a function of my own life stage and aspirations, but it turns out I'm not the only one seeing this. The Curve Report (one of the most comprehensive studies on emerging trends in our culture) calls out this revolution in fatherhood as one of the key trends of 2014. It titles this group The Rookie Force: men who are proud and excited to be fathers, but who don't have a blueprint for what that role means.
That's exciting to me, and following the evolution of that movement is my secondary motivation for starting this blog. If we as a culture have decided to reclaim fatherhood, to reimagine it and own it, what does that look like? What are the biggest changes to what that word means in pop culture? What valuable aspects do we hope to retain?
No idea. I'm a rookie too, you know.
So I'll be musing about the changing nature of fatherhood and sharing more baby stories than even I'll care to go back and read, and hopefully it will be a good journal for me and an entertaining blog for you.