Archive for the ‘Man Issues’ Category
It’s Movember, and you know what that means, it’s that time of year when a man’s heart turns to his prostate, testicles, and mental health. And so should you!
This year the boys and I are all growing moustaches to raise awareness and donations for Movember—a campaign that has shown incredible progress toward finding cures and saving the men in our lives. A single dollar donation might be the one that saves your father, husband, brother, son, boyfriend, cousin, neighbor, uncle, grandfather, football hero, boy band member, grocer, soldier, teacher, firefighter, hairstylist, actor, blogger, so forth and so on. Or it might save you.
The bottom line is our top lip, and you can help save every single man you have ever met. There are worse ways to spend a buck.
This post is sponsored by Procter & Gamble.
Procter & Gamble have long been known as the Proud Sponsor of Moms, and that is great. Moms definitely deserve the thanks and recognition. But what about the dads? Dads do stuff. Never fear, it turns out P&G are also recognizing and celebrating everything dads do for their families, which is nice.
As societal gender roles continue to be redefined, fathers are playing an equally integral role in parenting their children, and not just to score an awesome tie for Father’s Day! In fact, through a recent parenting survey of 2,000 parents (half mothers, half fathers) P&G discovered some fascinating insights on what it means to be a modern dad.
First, what is a modern dad?
of or relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past: the pace of modern life | modern U.S. history.
• characterized by or using the most up-to-date techniques, ideas, or equipment: they do not have modern weapons.
• [ attrib. ] denoting the form of a language that is currently used, as opposed to any earlier form: modern German.
• [ attrib. ] denoting a current or recent style or trend in art, architecture, or other cultural activity marked by a significant departure from traditional styles and values: Matisse’s contribution to modern art.
one’s father: his dad was with him | what are you making, Dad?
I know that the idea of an active and present dad, a man that lives in the now and uses up-to-date ideas in terms of how he relates to his family and the world is pretty much the norm for most of us, but there is still a lot of work to be done before the media starts portraying fathers more like the guys we all know and less like the guy we all laugh at. P&G wants to be a part of that change, and that is a message that I am proud to support by living it every day. Also, writing this post.
As for the recent survey by P&G, here are their findings in infographic form:
I think the survey results speak for themselves, but I speak for me and… yeah, I pretty much fall into line with the majority of those surveyed. We split the chores—for instance I do most of the laundry and my wife washes most of the dishes. However, the kids do most of the vacuuming, which apparently wasn’t an option. We monitor the online presence of our children. We struggle, daily, with our work/life balance. We like green cake.
And that’s not all! Now the modern dad in your life can be immortalized in an illustration. FOREVER!
P&G’s Thank you, Mom campaign is celebrating dads and everything they do for their families! Check out their Facebook and Twitter pages. It’s happening! Thank you, Mom wants you to fill in the blank and share what makes the dad in your life (No shame in nominating yourself—your kid isn’t allowed on social media yet, remember?) the #WorldsGreatest ____________________.
It’s like Mad Libs, but for Mad Skills.
P&G will be select some of their favorite responses and create custom illustrations to help honor Dads. Share them with your social network, i.e., friends!
Here are a couple of examples:
There are a lot more on their Pinterest page! Check them out and help P&G say Thank you, Dad!
- This month, Tide and Downy are celebrating the unique way that each dad does things
- Everyone has a story about what makes their dad uniquely him. Tell us your story using the hashtag #DadsWay on Twitter
- For every tweet sent out with #DadsWay, Tide and Downy will donate $1 to the National Fatherhood Initiative
Jim Gaffigan signs a hundred books, takes off his coat, and then signs a hundred more—his smile as sincere for the next fan as it was for the first. There is conversation. There are pictures. People walk away smiling, a moment of bliss just before it is tweeted.
It is a weeknight in Santa Monica and the serpentine line of polite book buyers moves in an orderly fashion. They are still laughing about the question and answer portion of the evening. They are clutching their copies, waiting for Gaffigan to sign it with genuine appreciation. The night has been more comedy act than book reading, and the intimate setting of a Barnes and Noble conference room lends itself to their comfort. We are all friends here.
The book is called Dad is Fat, which makes me suck my stomach in a bit when I have my photo taken with the author (above). Jim Gaffigan is not, despite a line of food-based humor that might suggest otherwise, fat. His kids, however, beg to differ—hence the title.
I suspect that Gaffigan has been working out. Kids are all about the tough love.
Prior to the book signing we had a chance to sit and talk about it.
Whit Honea: You wrote a book on fatherhood. Is that because you see everything now through the dad lens?
Jim Gaffigan: I think, for me, when I had two kids I could compartmentalize my life where I was the dad, I was the comedian. And then when we had three, and four, and five, out of necessity the title of “Dad” came first, and I am grateful for that… the weight of the responsibility and the benefits just outweigh any other title or identity.
WH: It’s always there.
JG: Totally. It’s great. I mean, in the end, I love that I have this constant reminder that this is what I know, myself, personally, that I am going to evaluate my existence on… I’m trying to hold on to that, keeping in touch with the whole dad identity, and believe me, I’m not that good at it, but having that dad identity is pretty important.
WH: I think saying you’re not good at it while being present like that means that you are good at it. You’re there, and so many kids don’t have that.
It’s funny, having these conversations I always feel like people expect me to be some champion of dad know-how—that just because I write about parenting I should have all the answers. Then I’m sitting at home in my boxers typing away and ignoring my kids for large chunks of the day.
JG: That’s what I thought was ironic about writing this book. I feel like every three months I am recalibrating how my life is run so that I can be a decent parent, and obviously a good partner to my wife, but doing this book really made me a bad parent because writing is a solitary… you know, with stand-up I can have a short attention span, but with writing an essay you have to do justice to it and there’s this stationary time. It’s not like I missed dance recitals, but I missed pick-ups that I probably could have done.
When my wife asks me if I can take our daughter to the orthodontist, and I’m like, can I do it? Yes! I prefer being in the mode that I almost have an annoyance with it. The fact that I’m yes! about taking her to the doctor makes me feel icky. Does that make sense?
WH: As far as that’s the quality of time that you’re getting?
JG: Because I’m trying to steal away these moments. You know as a kid, they’re not going to remember things like when you took them out for ice cream, but was my dad there when I was uncomfortable getting my braces tightened?
WH: That’s it. I always feel like my kids get a quantity of my time, not quality. Speaking of time with the kids, you wrote about doing “once in a lifetime things, again” and I thought that was great. It really hit home. I know the first time around, with my first son, I felt that there were these big things that I absolutely needed to be a part of, stuff that we had never experienced before, and it felt like that was the only chance to do it. And then all of a sudden we’re doing it again, and it loses some of the hype. At the same time, the second kid, and subsequent kids, you feel like you’re shortchanging them if you don’t give them that same level of awesomeness.
JG: Of course. I think there’s something strange about the once in a lifetime things occurring again, and children exposing you to things. It melts cynicism. It’s like even though you think that getting a Christmas tree is silly you’re going to do it and you’re going to squash your cynicism, and through their eyes you are going to have a positive perspective on it.
But there is also something… I love how my children have opened me to things. Things I never thought I’d be open to, like musicals. Look, I’m a Midwestern guy. I was not into musical theater. I didn’t understand it. I was reluctant. It was all Cats to me. Now, being inundated by the Sound of Music and Disney Princess songs, I understand that. I mean, I don’t know the value of it, but I think the larger value is the exposure to things. It just makes you more open. You have the openness of a child. I don’t know, it sounds so esoteric. To someone that doesn’t have kids it sounds…
WH: You’re exposing them to different cultures outside of their own comfort zone.
JG: Yeah, and you, inadvertently, are being exposed to these things, and it’s pretty amazing, right?
WH: I grew up in Arizona, man, and we didn’t have a vast array of cultural influences… we had what was prevalent there, and that was it. It wasn’t until I moved away after college, back and forth between L.A. and Seattle, that I saw things in the world—that I was exposed to other things, and I was like, holy cow! I don’t want my kids to have to learn this. I want them to grow up with it. That’s something we want to foster in them early on. It’s not that I wasn’t an accepting person in terms of other cultures and lifestyles, I just never had exposure to much of it.
JG: Right. That what I love about New York City. I mean, I love Indiana, but I like the fact that when we leave our building there’s this store that essentially caters to drag queens. When my kids see a drag queen they aren’t thrown by it, and you know what, they shouldn’t be thrown by it. That’s not to say I don’t want them to have their own values, but I’m a different person. You know, I’m a comedian and I don’t want someone to judge me in a certain way just because I’m a comedian, and I think that openness is something I really like about New York. It’s socioeconomic, cultural, all together. It’s not perfect, but I like that they have that exposure because I don’t want my kids to bristle in any situation.
And then it was time for Jim Gaffigan to sign some books. He didn’t bristle once.
I walk a line called fatherhood and my balance is precarious at best. Toes fall over edges smoothed with kind words and late night hugs. Feet slip upon surfaces left wet by tiny tears and early morning accidents.
It is a path that my father walked before me, and his before him, but the scenery is vastly different and always changing.
It is a path that my peers, friends, and men everywhere stand upon, some more firmly than others. Yet the path is my own. It started where I started and it will end where I end. There will be steps backward and jumps ahead, but it will never be alone. There is no harness for fatherhood and there is no net. We are daredevils on a tightrope and to fall is to fail, and to fail is not an option.
I am every man. I am the Great Santini. I am Atticus Finch. I am Cowboy Gil, as in guil-ty.
I have retraced steps to find things dropped hours after their loss and minutes into the crying. I have walked blocks from strange places to find substance in the hours where no child should be hungry. I have looked into my son’s face and said things that embarrass us all.
I have slammed doors and stood behind them as you cried yourself to sleep.
I have slept in your bed, curled around you like a blanket and felt my legs grow slowly numb.
I heal your wounds and you fix me when I am broken. We meet in the middle and find much happiness there.
The line is not straight. It loops and knots and forks, and maps are useless and hard to fold. Road signs consist of frowns and smiles, and we choose our adventures accordingly.
We run, we skip, and we waltz upon it—watching our steps in equal turn with refusing to do so. Some jumps require both feet.
When we pass each other we nod and wave. We tell tales of where we are going and stories of where we have been. And in the distance there are children laughing loudly and growing way too fast, each breath a beacon and a breadcrumb, guiding our footsteps to the place that we call home.
A version of this post first appeared in 2010 on DadCentric.
The players all looked at me, ready to hang on my every word. They had no idea that I had never given a halftime talk before. They only knew that we were in the locker room of my old junior high school, and that I had a whistle around my neck.
They didn’t know that I had never played basketball for my school—or any sport, for any school. In fact, the closest I ever came was two glorious weeks on the track team.
My friends and I were asked to turn in our uniforms after we missed a meet. We had been in the locker room seeing who could spin a discus the longest and impressing each other with our favorite celebrity impersonations. I was right in the middle of my Doug Henning when the coach came in and told us to wait on the bus. Needless to say, I was not a jock, and it would only be a matter of weeks before I took center stage in the school production of whatever it was and never looked back.
I glanced at the head coach to make sure I had heard him correctly. He nodded and I took a breath. The floor was mine.
“I grew up here,” I said. “I’ve known their head coach my entire life.
“This was my gym. I went to my first dance here. I kissed a girl somewhere around the free throw line. It wasn’t that long ago that I was you, and moments like this would last forever. Every game was the big game.”
The room was quiet and the boys were anxious. I had no idea where I was going with this, and the other coaches knew it.
I proceeded to have an incredibly awkward one-sided conversation with a room full of teenage boys about things that had nothing to do with basketball. I painted a picture of my own (also) awkward youth and appealed to whatever sympathies their parents had planted in them. It may have been the worst halftime speech ever given, and by the time it ended I was sweating far more than the players.
We lost the game, and I was never asked to give another pep talk the rest of the season.
I was, admittedly, embarrassed—not because of the game, but because I had used their moment as some sort of therapy session I never knew I needed. I feared that I had lost whatever respect they may have had for me.