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January 24, 2007

Ask Alternadad Something Else

Harry writes:

"I gave up drinking right before my child was born after being disastrously rebellious in my teenage and young adult life. I don't feel a need to get away and ease my mind, like, say, going to happy hour or reading the paper at the local coffee place. And being with my child makes me a better man; I see myself doing so many less petty things. I have dreams but they involve my son. Does this change? Does this pass after the first year?"

My answer after the bump.

Dear Harry:

I may be the wrong guy to ask when it comes to doing petty things. If anything, I've ramped up the pettiness since Elijah was born. But I've also ramped up the non-pettiness. For me, becoming a father has intensified and magnified my pre-fatherhood self--I find that I can be incredibly generous and loving one minute and totally shallow the next.

But for the most part, being a father has definitely made me a better man. For now. That can always change. Fatherhood is not some state of divine grace, after all. As for whether or not it's going to change for you, I cannot answer. But the first birthday may not be the demarcation point. Wait until your little dude throws something at you out of anger for the first time. You might find yourself heading for that coffee place pretty fast.

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Comments

Dreams last until 18 months. They are then supplanted by a searing emptiness.

I had those dreams (still do) about my kid and what kind of father I'm trying to be.

But I still have those dreams about random women I don't even know running around naked. Those never go away.

I agree with Neal, fatherhood has intensified and magnified my prefatherhood self. I do have a better feel for who I am because your personal time goes to essentially nil so when you do have it, you do what you really enjoy. It's been a great experience, ever changing.

I've just read an excerpt from your book in the UK's Guardian newspaper and I've been pondering what Solomon would have made of your mother's comment that Elijah's cutting 'didn't hurt at all'.
Wouldn't he perhaps have said that a woman who says this kind of thing would be similarly strapped down to a board to have her own prepuce removed without anaesthetic - just to test her assertion.

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