Jason Keil

Jason Keil is a writer whose work has been published in the Phoenix New Times, AZCentral.com, Phoenix Magazine, and OnMilwaukee.com. He also co-hosts the podcast What The Fork.

Fatherhood: Week Two

The media has pummeled me with examples of what society considers major parenting fails this week.

First, there’s the online harassment of a mother whose toddler fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. I’m not even going to add my opinion to that media frenzy. 

This afternoon, I listened to an episode of Risk, a podcast where people tell personal and occasionally embarrassing stories. I was hooked on a story called “Defusing The Bomb” by Grant Robinson. He described how angrily he would react when he couldn’t control his son’s crying fits. When he realized what he was doing, it sent him on a journey of self-discovery to extinguish his rage. 

The part of his story that resonated with me is the feelings of helplessness that led to his potentially harmful outbursts. This week, the inability to calm my son has frustrated me. I’m unable to feed my son, which means my sleep-deprived wife has to step in and take over. 

Let me make this abundantly clear: none of this caused me to think about or led me to harm my son in any way. I simply believe there is a part of every man that wants to be the one who swoops in to save the day. I am finding out firsthand that this doesn’t work in the field of parenting. It can be emasculating, especially after doing something as empowering as impregnating your spouse.

These feelings of weakness are exacerbated by rejected pitches and returning from paternity leave to new and strange surroundings (my day job moved to its shiny new digs last week). I’ve come home stressed out only to find a crying son and a poopy diaper waiting for me. Asking for pity from my wife seems moot when I look into her bloodshot eyes. 

I begin to wonder if it was too soon to start writing again. How can I be expected to interview a band coming into Phoenix when I haven’t found a day care for my son yet?

When I receive pictures of my son my wife sends me throughout the day, it helps make some of those feelings go away. A glint of optimism enters my cloudy brain. I know I’m not failing. I just want things to work out the way I want them to. I’m just struggling with the way things should be.