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Thoughts Approaching Father’s Day by James di Properzio–And Book Giveaway!

James di Properzio is a freelance writer and fully engaged dad. He the co-author, with his wife Jennifer Margulis, of The Baby Bonding Book for Dads, from Willow Creek Press. He also serves on the Oregon Board of Direct Entry Midwifery.

My firstborn daughter was the first baby I ever held. I had no idea how to care for her, how to act with herI didn’t even know how light she would be in my hands. What I knew for certain was that I wanted to be her father: I wanted to have as active a role as I was capable of, and I didn’t want to be an old-fashioned dad, remote and hands off, a second-class parent to the mom. I didn’t want to be the guy behind the newspaper. (At least when NPR is on, you can still see my face.)

I didn’t have a model for this; there weren’t any in American culture. It was 1999 and more engaged dads weren’t on the cultural radar (or NPR) yet.

So I just dove in and made it up as I went. I held her whenever my wife didn’t have her. I learned to change diapers in half the time it took my wife. I took off my shirt like those models in the back and white posters of muscular men holding beautiful newborns to their shaved chests. My chest was unshaven. Furry would not be too strong a word. My daughter didn’t mind.

I looked forward to the two days a week my wife went in to teach classes, and I got the baby all to myself. Feeding her pumped breast milk and holding her in my arms made me feel, well, like the parent I wanted to be. Those first times solo with the baby, I felt like a climber ascending solo, without ropes or anyone to belay me if I fell. All it took was for me to say yes, to take her into my arms and care for her on my own.

The slow accretion of breakfasts and bike rides, lullabies and wiped tears, build the rich relationship of love, the security of the bond they grow on as surely as they do on food. Without knowing how to do it, I became the father I wanted to be. All it took was the willingness to do it and the courage to step out of my comfort zone.

She turns 12 next month, and our fourth child is the baby now. Each of the four so different, bringing out different parts of me, or bringing new parts into being. Of all the things I’ve been and done and learned, which made me who I am, being a dad is the most unexpected and most profound. Because it’s not just who I am: it is how my children have woven themselves into my being, as I will always be part of theirs, and how taking the initiative to really bond with them has remade who I am.

Win The Book–Read On!
Here’s your chance to win a copy of  The Baby Bonding Book For Dads by James di Properzio! (Click HERE for a preview).

Here’s how to enter:

  • Comment below on this question: What’s the most important lesson your own father taught you about parenting? (make sure to leave your email or a link so we can contact you)
  • Contest runs until Friday June 17, 2011 midnight CST.
  • Winners will be chosen at www.random.org on Saturday, June 18 at 8:00am CST
  • Increase your chances to win by letting us know (in the comments section) that you have done one of the following (you can perform several actions and leave comments for each to increase your winning potential!):
  • Twitter: following@babycaretweets = 1 entry. Click here.
  • Facebook: “Like” Welcome Baby Care = 1 entry. Click here.
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