I ENJOY READING for its ability to transport me somewhere else. Like many parents I find the opportunities to pick up a book of my choosing few at best. Most of my reading moments are seeing what a curious monkey is doing (again), what Dora is taking a picture of, or what human activities Richard Scarry is illustrating via the animal world.
A work trip or late sleepless nights seem to be some of the few opportunities I get to read for me and I consider it a luxury. For this reason I have surprised myself by recently picking up some non-fiction books that deal with fatherhood. But, unfortunately I feel like these choices may have not made the most out of this luxury time.
As someone who enjoys humor more than most I have found it an essential asset to getting through many of the challenges of fatherhood. The fathers who penned these books must have felt the same way because many (if not all) of the stories they offer are predictably funny. There is the story about changing a diaper somewhere uncomfortable to the distaste of onlookers. The realization in a late moment in the day that Dad discovers that he has been sporting some spit-up milk on the shoulder of his dress shirt. Not being prepared for the second urination while changing the diaper from the first. Oh, and the father carrying a diaper bag and pushing a stroller while his buddies pass-by with catcalls! Ha ha! I get it. These moments are funny and sometimes it helps take the stressfulness out of parenthood to sit-back and laugh at the absurdity.
Then my laughs subside and I get frustrated with the make up of most of the “Daddy” books. They are not real. Where is the Dad who is trying to keep friendships alive with friends who consider other people's children baggage? Where is the Dad who works at home and spends copious amounts of time with his children because he is an established writer?
Where is the dad who is working hard at his career but is rarely recognized with appreciation by his family and friends? Where is the Dad who gets the sideways glances from the moms at the playground or playgroup because he is the only Dad present?
Humor is an escape and I am glad that there are authors that present the obvious that doesn't always enter a father’s head in the moment but I am tired of the predictability! Why is humor the constant default setting for us Dads?
Portraying the humorous is ignoring the realities of this role of father. It is messy, loud, disorganized, taxing, sleepless, disorienting, demanding, endless, and sometimes it just sucks! Fatherhood is challenging and continuous work and that is what makes it worth so much more than laughs!
I now find myself attempting to escape from this unrealistic escape of Dad books after all I am busy creating my own father story.