It happens. People who don't really want kids end up becoming parents anyway. Photographer Phillip Toledano is one of those people. "I liked [kids] in an abstract sense," he writes, "in the same way that exercise seems appealing, but in practice, utterly tedious." When his wife Carla became pregnant he says he was "neither ready nor vastly enthused." (Oh Carla, I'm so sorry...) He documented his daughter Loulou's first two years -- and his experience as a father -- in his blog, The Reluctant Father, now a beautiful book by the same name. And guess what? What started out as "misery" -- yes, he uses that word, misery -- eventually turned into joy.
Well thank goodness for that! Jeebus, what a relief for Carla and Loulou. Don't get me wrong. I know parenthood is different for everyone, and we need to tell all kind of stories about parenthood and celebrate transformation and ambivalence and diversity and bla bla BLAH! But man, forget Phillip Toledano's misery. How about the misery of the woman married to him? That must have been hard for her.
Well fortunately she gets the last word in the book -- as she well deserves! Carla describes how she married Phil for the way he fought conformity, because he wasn't like all the other guys. But after she had the baby, "I was desperate for him to join the ranks of smiling Stepford dads."
It’s ironic that I am writing the afterword to this book because our first year as parents was especially difficult and I would never have imagined showcasing that to the world. Both stubborn, we took our sides of light and dark to surreal extremes; mine spent in a world of suger coated baby-talk, his in a dungeon of screaming and excrement.
I don’t really know when we found the bridge but we did. And now I can laugh at the past in technicolor amnesia.
You can't always tell how parenthood is going to "take." Some women fall into post-partum depression, and that's terribly hard for the father. I think the important thing is that you work it out between the two of you, lovingly and sportively, always accepting that your emotions as a parent are what they are.
You can read the whole story in The Reluctant Father -- all of Phil's thoughts, the way the "sea sponge" robbed him of his beautiful, exciting life partner.
Are you in a marriage or partnership where one of you was reluctant to become a parent?
Image via Amazon.com