Daddy, Are You Happy?

My son has recently, and incessantly,  begun asking me, “Daddy, are you happy?”  I think he us just trying to gauge my mood at that moment, but he asks so often, I’m starting to think he is psychoanalyzing me.

With that in  mind, I read a surprisingly interesting article in New York Magazine.  With the cover proclaiming “I Love My Children, I Hate My Life” I was expecting another screed about entitled parents and their over pampered children.  Instead, the article  “All Joy and No Fun – Why parents hate parenting” is an interesting essay on why having children doesn’t necessarily make you happier.

The article mentions studies that show that people with children are not happier than the childless, how expectations, as well as, the family structure itself have changed, and of course it talks about the Scandinavians got it all figured out (there is a reason why the Swedish make the coolest children’s furniture.)

But its not until the very end of the piece do they touch on what is at the heart of the matter for me.  What defines “happiness”? And that happiness in life isn’t defined “by how much fun we had, but what we did with it.” And they ask the  philosophical question,  “should you value moment-to-moment happiness more than retrospective evaluations of your life?”

Personally, I have always thought that children won’t make you happier, at least on a day to day basis.  But I never viewed having children in terms of happiness, its about doing something selfless, devoting yourself to something other than yourself.  I think this used to be more common, peoples lives weren’t just about themselves and their own self satisfaction, it was as much about family, church and community.  And this doesn’t necessarily make you happier, but it might give your life more meaning and a greater sense of purpose.

Kids can definitely suck sometimes, but even with my shirt covered with oatmeal,  my back sore , and my mind completely zombied out from waking up at 5:30 every morning, “Yes Nate, I am happy.”


Father’s Day Cognative Dissonance

Tomorrow is my first Father’s Day that I’ll celebrate  just as a father, and not for my father, and I’m finding it very sad.

It makes me sad to receive thanks for something I asked to do. “Father” is a moniker I asked for.  It can be incredibly difficult, but so emotionally rewarding, that getting thanked for doing it seems hypocritical.

It makes me sad, because I can and should  be a better father. I make mistakes every day, I can be a terrible role model, I am often a lazy and inattentive dad, yet my son just adores me regardless.  It kills me.

A year ago we took my father out to Fish Camp for Father’s Day, it was the last time I went out with him to a restaurant.  He was a deeply flawed man, and made mistakes as a father everyday and when I was young, I adored him, and even after I’m old enough know that he should have and could have been a better father, I still adore him…and miss him.

My father loved that Father’s Day dinner, he loved to adored.  Although he would never admit it, he loved to be appreciated, to be the center of attention, I think he got something out of Father’s Day.

I don’t.

Not yet, anyway. Maybe, if after years of being under appreciated, I’ll learn to enjoy the attention of Father’s Day, even if I’m still a far from perfect father.  Something to look forward to I guess.

This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife!

<span How did I get here?
In the back of my head, I always thought I'd be a father someday…the key word is someday.  But in the meantime I was just going to enjoy life. And being an indie J.A. in New York, there is a lot to enjoy.  As I was floating through my existence, I woke wand realized I now had a beautiful wife, 2 beautiful cats, an beautiful son, and a beautiful home.  It was very anti-kafkaesque, I was the same, but everything else was different, and better. More Frank Capra than Franz Kafka. In any event, raising a brood in Brooklyn has been a trip.  Turns out I really really like being a dad and a husband, a lot more than I i liked being a hipster doofus, and I'd like to share my discoveries and observations, and get yours.
My entourage then…  and now!