Brandon Elder is blogger from Chicago.
If you told me 5-10 years ago that I would be married and be a father, I would have thought you were crazy. Not because I disliked the idea, I just never really thought about it. I spent the last 15 years traveling the world, living overseas, and working for social justice movements so I guess that I didn’t ever feel settled enough to think about having a family of my own. I ended up moving to Chicago where I met Michelle (the other & better half of MA + PA) and everything changed. I wanted to put down roots and start a family. We got married and then exactly one year later, on our anniversary, we had our darling daughter, Emerson. Next up, a big move to Durham, NC, so wish us luck!
Every father has his story. This is a small glimpse into Brandon's.
1. Sometimes, the connection to fatherhood is not immediate. Was it for you? And if not, was there a moment that you really felt, "Woah. I'm a dad."
My connection to fatherhood was definitely immediate and I would certainly argue that I felt a strong bond with my daughter even before she was born. The whole process was transformative for me and somewhat surprising considering that I never really considered having children of my own for the majority of my life. I would describe the moment Emerson was born as euphoric and the deep love and special bond between us as instantaneous; A feeling that can only be experienced through this type of “miracle” for lack of better words. It has changed my life immensely, and despite some of the hardships that come along with becoming a new parent, I love being a father and feel so lucky to have Emerson as my daughter. I am very comfortable being a dad but there are still moments every day that I feel overwhelmed with knowing that I am, in fact, a father.
2. What has been easier than you thought it would be? How about harder?
With Emerson, there are at least a couple things that have never really been a struggle for us and we’re thankful for that. When it comes to feeding time, Emerson has rarely turned her nose up to anything. She loves to eat and has had no problems stuffing herself since we started giving her real food. Emmi has also always been a big fan of bath time, and it’s never been a difficult to get her cleaned up. Our nightly ritual of bath time before bed has given Michelle and I some of our favorite moments together and we’re glad that Emmi really enjoys being in the water.
Being a new parent isn’t ever easy with the many adjustments you make to your once childless lifestyle. Probably one the most difficult things, which wasn’t particularly unexpected, has been adjusting to the lack of sleep, at least during those weeks and months where Emerson had trouble with it. Luckily we seem to be past that now, and she normally sleeps through the night with no issues. Still, the struggle to stay focused, to feel balanced and to keep stress levels down while trying to juggle work life with everyday responsibilities, all while trying to give Emerson the attention she needs, has not always been easy.
3. What kids book would you read a million times out loud in a row? What book are you actually have to read a million times out loud in a row? How about songs?
A few favorite books of mine that come to mind are The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, any of the Moomin stories (Moomin being a popular Finnish/Swedish character written by Tove Jansson), and Where the Wild Things Are which is an obvious classic. Emerson loves her books and while I’m not sure that she has any one particular favorite (we read books with her A LOT), she seems to enjoy Baby Likes To Boogie more than some of the others. Also the Spot A Lot books and Time For Bed by Jane Dyer is a nighttime favorite of hers.
4. What traditions are you excited to carry on with your daughter?
I remember going on family vacations every summer and I still have some vivid memories from many of those trips. Luckily we’ve already been able to travel some with our daughter and hopefully going on vacations together as a family is something that we will continue to be able to do often. I can’t wait to take my daughter on her first camping trip, or to hike with her through the mountains, or to watch play in the ocean. I also really hope that Emmi enjoys cooking as much as her parents do. Cooking and sharing meals together is a top priority for us.
5. Being a dad makes me feel _____________________.
A deep kind of love that I never knew existed.
Thanks for letting us profile you, Brandon! Please check out his blog, MA + PA. He and his wife, Michelle, are posting from both mom and dad's perspective. Really good stuff!
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