Hiatus cleanser

Father is not allowed on the other side of the door.
Dad is not allowed on the side of the door that I am not on. Ever.

This is what the cool kids who smoked at the smelly barn I grew up near called a ‘hiatus cleanser’. Just kidding. They weren’t kids.

Anyway, it has been a bit of an Undad break as family life has ensconced all facets of my smarmy existence. All is well though. I even think I used ‘ensconced’ properly. Properly meaning that I half read the dictionary.com word of the day text I got this morning. My WillieNelsonJokes.com joke of the day came through at the same time so I couldn’t finish it.

So, back on the tracks. Straight and narrows. Rising from the aces. Focused and I’ll stop whatever the shit this is right now.

A few weeks back I put the ask out for those who may know a dad that would like to answer some questions on dad-dom. Cue Patricia Begley-Nelson with a Jeff Nelson suggestion. I don’t know Jeff or Patricia, but that didn’t stop me from asking them to support my invisible friend licensing Kickstarter. They declined, but Jeff was rad enough to answer some dadstions (I mixed the words ‘dad’ and ‘questions’ together. This is a magic i was born with).

Ladies and gentleness, Mr. Jeff Nelson.

Mr. Jeff Nelson
Mr. Jeff Nelson

JN – Did I always want to be a dad? Not at all. I wasn’t directly opposed to the idea, I just didn’t think I’d ever have the opportunity, or be any good at it. Now that I am I don’t regret it for a second (even when I do regret it); I’m happy I did have the opportunity. I still wonder if I’ll be any good at it though.

Being a dad has definitely changed how I see the world. From seeing everything as brand-new through her (his daughter), to drawing realisations from my own childhood as pieces of my parents’ puzzling behaviour fall into place. Some friends and I were discussing movies recently, and a thing we call the Dad Context. What is just a throwaway scene to one person will often hit a dad—especially a new dad—right in the feels.

Just the other day, M had her first fall and it was on my watch (I usually look after her before work while her mum gets a bit of extra rest). I turned back to my breakfast for a second and she rolled herself off of the couch and face planted onto the hardwood floor. There was no time for tempering my reaction so she didn’t get scared or whatever—she was already hurt and scared and it wasn’t until mummy came rushing out that she calmed down.

I left for work feeling like a complete failure; beating myself up all day. When I came home though I was greeted by that same excited smile she usually has for me (often the best part of my day), and she was just as eager for bath time as she always is, babbling on and on to me, the morning’s injury already forgotten except for the (now faint) mark on her forehead. The highs and lows in the day of a dad.

As for advice for other dads, advice a friend of mine with kids gave me: “As long as everyone has eaten, pooped, and slept, the day was a success.” Also, there’s a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) out there—different points of view are great but you have to make the decisions that work best for your family.

Jon Manning photo by Andrea Beca
Jon Manning photo by Andrea Beca

Then there is Jon Manning. Jon and I know each other from a short lived TV show we starred in called Captain Kisses House of Awkward Kisses (not at all). Recently Jon and I have worked together in a sketch comedy fashion with Friends Without Benefits. Jon plays Satan. Not in a one on one basketball sense, more in the acting fashion. Here are Jon’s dadswers (oh yeah).

TW – For as long as you can remember, did you always wanted to be a father?

JM – Definitely not. My 20s were full of selfish mistakes. And during that decade of dalliance, I definitely did not want to bring a child into the world. But that line of thinking changed when I met the right gal. She’s always helped me see the world beyond myself and really, it was a great breeding opportunity.

TW – Has it changed how you see the world?

JM – Definitely, it has. I’m more grateful for the simple things, as cliché as that sounds. I just love being at home and spending time with my family. I still have my own ambitions and I still want to fulfill those, but my focus has changed and the most important thing I can work on is my family, and also my Xbox.

I’m also more protective. And on the same level, I’m more optimistic. So there’s really this duality of seeing all the possibility in the world and also being slightly afraid of it. I guess I’ve just gained more perspective.

TW – What is one of the biggest surprises you’ve come across?

JM – This isn’t really a surprise because I strongly suspected things might go this way, but I’m constantly in awe of how good of a mom my wife is. It’s astonishing, and also completely beyond me. I actually don’t know how she does it all. And she still finds time to be an incredibly supportive partner. I’m clueless with most of this stuff, but I’ve lucked out.

TW – Do you have an anecdote that (sort of) sums up your dad experience thus far?

JM – Oh, I love anecdotes. Of course, because I’m living it right now, I don’t have any, but I’ve looked some up quotes, and this seems to be a very truthful and happy thing to say, so I’m going with it:

Anyone who tells you fatherhood is the greatest thing that can happen to you, they are understating it. – Mike Myers

TW – What advice would you give other dads?

JM – It’s not about you. Being a dad has saved me from some of my selfishness. I’m sure I still have my moments, but to me, this is important to remember. My life is no longer just about me, it’s about my wife, my son, our family—it’s all of us and that’s pretty much how I feel about that. 

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