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Dads are Made not Born

My dad had a limited but long lasting effect on me. Reserved in his hobbies, reserved in his conversations, reserved in his enjoyment; but the effect spoke volumes. Junior made Steve a father and Steve molded himself into a dad. Fatherhood comes from the birth of a child; dadhood is different. I was ecstatically happy when Junior was born and marveled at his every look, syllable, step, and smile. Steve sometimes looked mystified. He could change a diaper if needed, but hated the container that held the dirty diapers for cleaning. When the diapers were really dirty, he would leave them for me to swish in the commode. I tried to tell him that no one enjoyed the smell of dirty diapers. Steve questioned gassy sounds, gurgles, and the reasoning behind using enormous pins on diapers to hold them in place. I admit that diaper pins gave me the shakes too but no one had invented anything safer to tie on those heavy cloth diapers.

I realized that Steve was a real dad when Junior got his first cold. Junior’s breathing was labored because his little nose was stuffed up. I sucked out the mucus as lightly as possible but it irritated Stevie and he cried more, which resulted in more mucus. Steve propped Junior up on some pillows and made funny noises and faces at him while ever so gently squeezing the mucus out. Junior even giggled a little. Steve was proud of his accomplishment and I tried not to be too offended that he had performed the process better than I did.

After that cold, Steve was much more confident with the baby. Dads play a little less delicately with babies and I loved hearing those chuckles from both of them when they spent “mantime” together. A generational shift is occurring with men. It’s good that they are taking a more hands-on approach to child care. I’m sure that moms will never be obsolete, but it’s nice to share the responsibility.

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