Not Super Dad
I had a disconcerting conversation yesterday.
A friend, someone I very much respect and of whom I am slightly in awe, told me my blog put him off the thought of parenting.
What made the comment all the more shocking was the standing in which I hold this friend.
He's an extraordinary man. Successful across two continents. Connected in the very highest places. Fluent in at least three languages. Erudite, entertaining, sartorial. Someone from whom I have learnt an enormous amount. Someone of whom I have remained in awe throughout our friendship.
Asking if he could give me some honest feedback on the blog, he explained:
It makes me feel inadequate. And unqualified and inferior to you and J.
Perhaps a few blog posts that just talk about normal days that are not about being same sex parents or adoption but just about being a family.
Is it that rude of me?
No! It wasn't rude. It was exactly the kind of honest, straightforward feedback I want to encourage through the site, in the comments readers leave, in the social media interactions I have.
It was exactly the kind of honest, straightforward feedback I would have expected from my friend.
He went on
Sometimes just focus on the fun and the family and the love between you and J that enabled this all. Less chore and brain though and a bit of just living through life.
Would make it less scary. There are a couple of people I could see me having kids with. But reading the blog has scared me shitless to be honest. Tripled my admiration for you but detailed the challenges.
The blog is funny and inspiring. But I don't think I could handle that level of concentration and attention for 20 years.
The comments made me stop and question the purpose of this blog. Why have I started writing it? What purpose did I hope it would have? Is it sufficiently down to earth?
I started writing the blog because I wanted to see whether I could. Whether I had the talent to write. Whether what I had to say was of any interest to people.
I've found I love it. Hence churning out at least two posts a day. I'm enthused, inspired when I am sat at the keyboard.
It's purpose was to primarily offer a series of articles describing how we became a family from our own viewpoint. Additionally detailing some of the entertaining and funny moments along that journey. Things that otherwise may be lost in the welter of memories ahead.
I wanted our children to have an alternative history they could look back upon. Talking about the challenges we faced and describing the fun they had. Something to counter the factual, dour tale their adoption files will tell.
The fact that it seems to have helped. Even to have inspired, has been an additional unintended, unexpected bonus.
Is it down to earth? I hope so, but realise that perhaps I am not clear enough that much of what I write about is not happening now. It condenses a story that has already spanned five years.
I hoped the blog would provide a fun antidote to the adoption pages. A chronicle of the daily travails our quirky family faces. Naturally enough the funny and interesting stories float to the top because they amuse me, so I hope they entertain the reader.
Interestingly, this morning, I became involved in the tale end of a conversation on Twitter that had started with this comment:
Time we called out parents who make up stories about their boring children
The comment made me stop and think too.
To be honest there are many days when I struggle to tweet anything interesting. Write any posts that would entertain anyone. Our days are overcome with mundanity. Routines run their course. Life passes by at its usual pace.
On those days I do search out the snippets of interest. The fleeting moments of fun. It's often a challenge, but with a little application there is always a nugget to be found.
Do I sensationalise things? Do I give the sad stories added pathos? Do I exaggerate the humorous ones?
I re-read a couple of posts to be sure.
I confirmed for myself the answer was 'no'. If anything I think I sanitise some of the sadness. With the humour I do condense it. But then, for example, the story of our disastrous picnic, which lasted almost an hour and quarter, would be extraordinarily boring if I detailed every bit. Pulling out the funnier parts entertains. Diarising it would dilute the entertainment.
So, I address this final comment to my first friend.
Our lives are made up of very large stretches of the mundane. Of the every-day. They aren't that interesting, but they are there. And I take your advice, I will do more to reference them.
Equally though, you know me well. You know my foibles. You know my strengths. You know that I am not that different to you. In many respects I am your inferior.
There are days when I burn and fail. We've often worked our way through many different strategies before we have found one that works. The mistakes outnumber the successes. It's just the successes remain. I'll try and write a little more about those too.
Were our positions reversed you too would be writing this blog. Your solutions would not be the same. Your stories would be told with a different voice. But the love, commitment and contentment would be identical.
You would make an amazing Dad. The final encouragement in your message proves just that.
It also proves that you would be the same, I think the better, person.
Words and thoughts like these give all parents fortitude and inspiration:
I applaud and shout your support from the sidelines and send people to your blog whenever the topic arises.
So ignore the commentators like me. Get on with being amazing.
The doing Dad.
I'm no Super Dad.
I'm a Dad fortunate to have super friends. Lucky enough to see their list grow daily through telling these stories.