The Future Generation #74

Fatherhood

    I want to do a fatherhood issue of my zine - its about time. I mean, I am so woman-centric being a woman and all. Do men write about fatherhood as much as woman write about motherhood? All you got to do is check out the hip parenting sites to see that apparently not. Does mothering cover most of the basics of parenting and all fathers need to do is learn good mothering skills?
    They say that with the advent of woman’s lib in the 60’s the family has changed to include more single mothers and more fathers who invest themselves in parenting more, including stay at home fathers. This is kind of interesting. I am ready to explore the topic of fatherhood: the practical and the psychic terrain of Papa-hood. There’s little sexier than a good dad, I know that. Its always cool to see an individual with a good balance between their female and male sides. You know what I mean? Well I guess, to me the sexiest of the sexy is cool parents. Or just anybody who can look beyond themselves and create something idealistic with the day to day work ramifications of it all. I dig that.
    I don’t know much about fatherhood, I pretty much chose to be a single mother. At 21, I felt ready to have a baby but not ready to settle down. It wasn’t until I was 30 that I really grasped and valued partnership. I have always been kind of an individual used to doing things on my own. I value tribal identity but kinda rejected the nuclear family as part of the patriarchy. Fatherhood to me, often seemed a kind of tyranny. Mothers were the giving ones. You had to be quiet when dad came home. Wouldn’t it be great and free to have a life without those bossy dads around? Where mom, the superwoman of what a girl can be, rules supreme, in love, decision making, and as a free agent.
    It’s been a while now, that my idea of fatherhood has changed. I have seen many of my peer group show me what a father can be and its not the 1950’s style anymore these days, bub. Well for the most part. There are still the dads that check out and go drinking at the bar the day after you have your baby and fight with you all the time and are unsupportive—of course. There is still relationship hell. But there are a lot of really sweet families around and really great dads. Fatherhood supports equal rights among the sexes and justice in the world. Fatherhood supports good mental health and human growth and development. Fatherhood can make Motherhood about Half the work. Wow. These days, sometimes for the first time, I really regret not having a father in our lives. Some one to share the love. Well, this is why I regret it. It hasn’t been the hard times, the down and out times I thought I wouldn’t make it. Its been the first day of my daughter’s high school. Its been when my daughter took a trip to Europe last year, as a foreign exchange student.
    I was busting with pride and wonder and I would have loved to share that with a father/partner. To be able to say: Look at our child. Look what we have done. Cheers! Instead I had a boyfriend who didn’t give a damn. The first day of high school. The first trip alone to Europe. Whatever. How could he get it. Not being there for the early years of diapers and learning to walk and all that. He’s only seen her in this difficult teen phase that she’s in. There’s been different people in my life for different events. Its been her grandmother that has been the consistent family member that can look at this kid in wonder of her growth and help provide for her as a grandmother can. 
    I haven’t been um, maybe the luckiest in love or made the best choices. It is possible to get boyfriends who love your kids and become more in the family department. And it is possible to have Fathers that are every bit as detached as a boyfriends can be. What I wanted was a world of aunts and uncles and freedom - I thought love was easy and not necessarily made by blood.
    I’m not saying my boyfriends are beasts, its just they don’t get it. They have less patience for her. I still think fathers in general, still seem to me to be the ones that are stricter or the ones that think maybe you shouldn’t give as much as you do to your children. But people who aren’t fathers: well they are even worse. They usually think your kid is a brat. They rarely have the gut wrenching empathy that parents do. Like when Ozzy Osbourne is a ball of nerves about to cry backstage when his daughter is about to perform. (That’s what she said. I finally got to see The Osbournes.) That’s adorable. That is love. The love love thing. Maybe it helps a lot if it is your own child. I think people should be more empathetic and kind to others that aren’t there own blood, to be sure. But I guess it helps when you been there, since day one - to feel that way. Ah, Love. That’s the thing the world needs more of.
    Having a baby, speaking for myself - is empowering for a woman. To trust in and claim - her body, her power, her trust in nature. To get down with yourself. Don’t men need that break through too, in today’s modern world where we have so much alienation from our bodies and our emotions. (Not saying everybody should have babies, of course - but everybody should have experiences in their maturity where they can grow and get in touch with there emotions and heal there own inner child and all that yada yada)
    What is that experience for a man? I read somewhere in Psychology today - that a Man who is with his pregnant woman, also experiences chemical changes in his body as she does, which continue after the birth of the baby. The more these chemical’s change - the testosterone goes down and these nurturing chemicals go up - the more caring a father he is. I think it helps just to Be there, in pregnancy and after birth - participating. Being responsible, being needed and providing for needs. You don’t have to be perfect. Lord knows. You can even feel like running away like you can’t deal with it. But all you got to do is stay. That’s the first law of parenting. To just do it.
    I also see, looking around me, that the fathers first role is to take care of the mother. The baby starts in her body and is totally all about the Boobs for a few years. Taking care of the mama is taking care of the baby. Later on, as a kid gets to be running around - a kid can totally be a side kick, maybe even preferring the father, you know. But it starts slow. When does a father’s bond start with it’s child? In the womb? Or later. Probably it is different for different people. Pregnancy is the mysterious time to be sure. Kind of a scary time (what if you give birth to a monster or something, what if you don’t love your child, what if…) but also a cool ass time of wonder. I totally got into a book on Zen by  Alan Watts and ancient creation poems in the book Origins (there is no birth there is no death , just endless intermingling) when I was pregnant. I also read the Egyptian book of the Dead, one night before sleep and had this insane lucid dream.
    But the clear light of day happened, the moment my daughter was born and I looked into her eyes. Then it was simple. I knew I loved her. Then it was easy - to have a child to care for in your arms. Well at first - then you go through a million hard stages that are all brand new to you and you are like Cripes, what do I do now. (Then, like before birth, comb the library for books that speak to you and ask other parents there advice. Most people working in the herbal remedy sections in health food stores are pretty helpful to.)
    For fathers, is it love at first sight? I mean they have been on the outside of that Inner body experience. I am really big into natural birth, having a midwife and nursing. For me, these are experiences that left me with a strong bond to my child. I hate hospitals. I couldn’t stand to have an expert pulling my child away from me and fiddling with my body unless it was a medical emergency. What are the factors for a father - that create a bond or create distance?
    I explored my negative emotions as well, the normal crazy stuff. Bitched, complained and Freaked out. Had Amazed Revelations over the beauty of my child. Do fathers have these outlets to? Are they more steady by nature or is it all just an individual person’s temperament?
    I would think some good advice to new fathers is not to be too jealous and to share the love. Her boobs don’t belong to you anymore. (If they ever did, is highly questionable) There’s going to be a lot of energy invested in this newborn but things don’t stay that way. As I overheard one baby daddy saying to another “It only gets better” I would think it would be awesome spending ten years bonding as a family and then ten years learning to let go of your child and then still be standing there with yer woman going “Yep Yep look at our Kid, all out on its own, what an awesome kid” or standing there together in a crisis and having each other to lean on.
    But maybe like me, you couldn’t do that commitment, or somehow it didn’t work. You didn’t remain the original family unit. You can still father of course. Tons of people in today’s world share parenting and act congenial to each other after they separate. It might be hard, there might be some estrangement. Or maybe you will have the sole custody and be a single dad.
    I started writing these thoughts on fatherhood because of a show I read at, last night. I was sitting with a friend/dad and he introduced one of his band members and said he was going to be a father, that he was now a “father of a zygote” and had asked him for what was his advice. There was music going and such and we had a little chat. I used to like it when I was pregnant, when people would touch my belly and bless the baby—even if they were wacky people. (Once I hitch-hiked up the mountain where I was living in Colorado - cuz the bus ran so infrequently and it was a common practice for people to hitch up to the little mountain town where many log cabins were, as mine was. This woman I got a ride with gave me a beautiful crystal for my baby. Usually I wouldn’t be into hippie stuff like crystals, you know, but it felt different this time, special. The mountains were so snowy and icy. It was nice. I had a collection of little things, tokens for my baby.)  When I look at you – papa of a zygote- I see the Life in your eyes. It is just so apparent you have a lot to give. I want to offer my blessings on your baby.
    And I also want to say Welcome little Zeek! (Born this December to Faith and Than) I held him in my arms last Saturday - for the first time at 6 weeks old. (I’m not the kind of person who wants to hold newborns.) He was like this warm sack of potatoes - I tucked him into my coat to keep him warm as we walked to the café in the cold. And I felt special. Like somehow it was to my credit when the barista squealed “Ooh, is that a baby? Let me see him - he is so handsome!” even though he wasn’t my baby.
    I felt this special glow–it was the same way the day he was born. Things felt so different and there was excitement in the air, you couldn’t help but smile.
    Later, at a bookstore - I watched a father hold his little infant. I asked how old he was. 8 weeks, he replied. I told him that I had held my friends baby today, and how it was so cool to be around a life so new. His eyes shone in agreement with me as he engaged in eye-contact with his daughter, smiling and cooing at each other. He was smitten—that was clear to see.
    So happy birthday Zeek and Good Wishes to all the Papa’s. If anyone would like to write about being a father (or about their father, or not having a father, or advice to new fathers…) I am currently excepting submissions and am happy to say I have 3 promised essays coming my way. China/The Future Generation P. O. Box 4803 Baltimore MD 21211 or China410@hotmail.com