"Daddy Moments"*

Vincent Avatar

*simultaneously posted at Rice Daddies.

I have a condition I call “Daddy Moments.”

Daddy Moments are instances when due to stress, exhaustion, or temporary lapses in cognitive fluidity, I channel the collective psyche of all dads real and fictional throughout the ages. In my brief years as a father I have already channeled the likes of Mike Brady, Cliff Huxtable, and Charles Ingalls. In my darker moments: Archie Bunker, George Jefferson, and Bernie Mac.

And, Yes, ashamedly, sometimes Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin.

A Daddy Moment can also be brought about through a real life situation that unsettlingly mirrors something suited to a sitcom. For example my earliest memories of TV are not of the programs that were shown but of my dad’s ass bouncing and swaying in front of the screen as he fiddled with the knobs and rabbit ears searching for that better picture. Or driving around some indistinguishable parking lot looking for the “spot,” the one that was closest to the store but inevitably was even further away from the first available spot. I had a “Daddy Moment” of this kind recently.

My children are learning to swim. Excitement over this summer’s Olympics helped fuel their desire to learn. They have already had several lessons. Since the start of the lessons, my wife has taken the boys to the Y so they can get some additional practice in the water. Last week, I joined them.

It’s been ages since I’ve been in a pool – over a quarter of a century! In fact, the last time was when my mother took me to swimming lessons when I was in middle school. Just like my not having driven a car since I was 16, the opportunity or the need never arose. If it did, there was another more pressing reason not to swim or be near a pool.

It must have been some automatic response on the part of my brain, a deep-seated -perhaps primal – instinctual tactic for survival, protecting me all these years, telling me not to appear in public sans chemise.

I am not going to say my body has been ravaged by time. Any random observer would immediately note the contradiction. Let’s say instead, I was an empty vessel who is now filled quite generously with time. The wiry arms and 28 inch waist have melted into wings and a muffin top.

And of course, I go shirtless on six-pack and Bowflex night at the pool.

There I was with my wife (drooling) and kids. Pieces of me swishing and sloshing and I hadn’t even gotten into the water yet. Just as I would have guffawed a little over a decade ago, if you would have told me that I would be married with children today, I would not have put much thought into advice to watch what I eat or to getting more physical activity. But here I am. Desperately fighting the battle of the bulge.

In my search for a “Why?,” I came across an article in the NY Times Health section from 2004 that suggested fathers as well as mothers gain weight after the birth of a child. And it added that the more children there were the greater the potential for obesity. While there are biological reasons given for women gaining weight. Fathers suffered weight gain as a result of psychology, life style, or culture. There was no explanation given.

I don’t know that one is needed. In the case of fathers (at least this one), it is enough to know that the gain is not biology but a symptom of psychology or lifestyle. Which means it can be corrected (optimistically, reversed) with much less effort than a biologic-based gain.

So here I am not only watching what I eat but when and how much. I’m taking the stairs instead of the escalator. I’m eating less sugars and (gasp) rice as I try to decrease the carbs. This and more with the intention of living up to the image of these buff Hollywood dads.

Then again I found this list on alive & amplified. She lists the qualities of a “Hot Dad.” Maybe I should pay more attention to what comes out of my mouth than what I ingest. Maybe I should spend more time running around with my kids at the playground instead of letting my wife take them out by herself. Maybe if I watch what I say and do I’ll end up on my family’s Hot Dad list.

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