A Blogazine, based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that features fun and interesting articles. Topics include: parenting, society, real estate, career, style, spirituality and more. Written contributions are always welcome!

Monday, October 6, 2008

All The Young Dads

By David Serchuk

One of the more surprising things about becoming a parent is seeing the looks from friends and acquaintances towards my baby daughter Stella. Often these looks say: “I would like one of those.” The twist, though, is how often these looks come from men.

I didn’t expect this. The male stereotype is that guys don’t want to commit, the baby is the woman’s idea, and that guys go along to get along, and … a lot of that’s bullshit.

For example, one day not long after Stella’s birth a male co-worker, let’s call him Frank, started to chit-chat with me about fatherhood. I thought we were just passing the time until I noticed how intently he listened to every word I said.

Frank then told me how so sorry he was that he’d just broken up with his girlfriend, specifically because he wants kids so much. I had never heard a young, single man speak that way before. Frank then added that, despite his paternal drive, he’s also quite scared to be a father.

This I had heard before. In fact, I’d lived it. I had also been afraid, make that terrified, of being a dad. Here’s why.

You see, I know at least a few emotionally cut-off dads. These are dads who’d removed themselves from their children’s lives; dads who somehow never grew up, despite qualifying for the free birthday meal at Denny’s.

The thought of turning out that way, a narcissistic man-child, terrified me, I told Frank. But the birth of my daughter quickly destroyed these old fears, even as new ones sprouted in their place.

“The truth,” I told Frank, “is that I care too much. It’s like this, this python wrapped around my neck at all times, this love. Sometimes I can’t stand it, it’s too much. But I love it, this snake, and I squeeze it back even as it squeezes me. And sometimes I fear that it’s crushing me, but I can’t, I won’t ever let go. So we’re squeezing each other, and we will, until the day I die.”

I paused. I knew I’d gone to a fairly odd place conversationally, especially for work.

“Does that make any sense?”

Frank nodded.

“Shit, you make me want to be a father so bad,” he said. “I’d never heard it explained that way, but now I want it so much.”

“That sounds pretty weird, I know,” I said. “I mean, it’s better than that, but it hurts, too. Because of how strong your love is. It hurts you, but in a good way.”

All too soon our little break came to an end. Frank had to go back to statistics, and I had stories to edit. But before he left Frank made me promise to link him to our online photo album for Stella. Surprised and touched, I said I would.

David Serchuk is an editor at Forbes.com and lives in Park Slope Brooklyn with his wife Randi and daughter Stella. He also blogs at www.brooklynbabydaddy.blogspot.com.