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Maybe our forefathers were right. Maybe a man's place during his child's birth should be in a smoky "stork club," reading the newspaper, instead of holding the laboring mom's knee and watching the baby "crown" (this gets my nomination for the best euphemism of all time). Woe to the dads of today who look to the fathers of yore for wisdom on diaper changing and 2 a.m. feedings--these predecessors will just shake their grizzled heads and laugh.
Ask your father if he's ever been to a gynecologist's office. Go ahead--he'll make a funny face. It's a hoot. Me, I've sat in the OB-GYN's and pediatrician's waiting rooms so many times, I have favorite chairs in both places.
Co-workers play games of Guess That Bodily Fluid while looking at my shirt. I have performed deep squats while holding a squalling, colicky infant and watching the sunrise. At those moments, do I yearn for the days when a father's child-rearing obligations mostly involved watching a ballgame together? You betcha.
But would I trade places with those guys? Would I turn back the clock on fatherhood? Should writers answer rhetorical questions that call for time travel and could get them in trouble with their wives? I think not.
Suffice it to say, fatherhood has changed. What was rare a decade ago, and unheard of in generations past, is today's standard fatherhood procedure. We've evolved from breadwinner to part-time assistant parent to co-parent. Say hello to Dad 2.0. And quit pretending you're asleep; it's your turn.
Astonishingly, dads have discovered that changing diapers doesn't make your balls fall off. And while we may roll in our dad's way, which is often different from mom's way, we're getting it done, and getting better at it all the time. Dad 2.0 may even feel a little sorry for those well-rested, TV-sports-enabled, butt-paste-free 1.0 Dads. Maybe a little jealous, too, but glad to be one of the new models.
In the abstract, the rewards can be a bit tough for guys to buy into. All that work, expense and loss of sleep in exchange for ... feelings? It would be like your boss paying your bonus in dog biscuits. But as any Dad 2.0 will tell you, the payoffs, when they come, are real, and rich indeed. "Epic emotional attachment is not something we're ready for as guys," observes Kurt Voelker, a writer/director and dad living in Los Angeles. "But when my child sees me and jumps into my arms? Pure gold."
A word of warning: While she's the one who throws up for weeks and gets swollen ankles, many a Dad 2.0-to-be experiences acute pregnancy symptoms that require a prescription for safe, effective treatment.
Hop up on the table, and let's have a look.