Stefan Lanfer Asks, "Super Dad or Super Spin?"

I first met Stefan Lanfer last spring via the DadBlogs network, and was instantly humbled by not just his writing but also by his commitment to the Boston community. In addition to his blog, Dad Today, Stefan is a playwright and an author. I had the opportunity to read Stefan's book, The Faith of a Child, and I highly recommend it to both new and veteran fathers alike. Each of the poetic, free-verse-like passages had a calming effect, causing me to reflect on my own experiences as a young dad. Stefan is a sensitive, caring father, and it readily shows in his work. His guest post today is indicative of that.

Super Dad or Super Spin?

One of the things I have wondered about dad-blogging is how to ever possibly create a balanced, fair, “true”-from-all-sides picture of these years in our young and growing family. I am starting to think that maybe it just can’t be done. Not to suggest I am wantonly distorting or A Million Little Pieces-a-sizing my posts for extra pizazz or ZING!, but there is something unshakably limiting and distorting about the fact that, for all of these blog posts written and edited and published for the world to see, I am our family’s one and only narrator.

My kids, four and two, are still too young to really remember (aren’t they?) much from these years. At least for myself, I know that when I try to scrape the recesses of memory, there are a few hazy images from somewhere around age five - like the woods behind our house on Gregory Road (and especially that little gully we called “DEATH VALLEY!”) From age four-ish, memories get fuzzier and even less reliable. The only one I’ll stand by for sure is of being at the Cos Cob train station with my mom and baby brother, Peter, looking for my dad’s feet under the commuter rail when it arrived from Grand Central Station. Beyond that it is hard to say with much certainty which are actual memories, and which are just memories of the iconic childhood photos, or of the stories told, and retold, and RETOLD as I grew (like the one about three or four-year-old me, when urged to eat my vegetables, reliably protesting that, “I ate a pea in Longview” - Man, if I hear that story again, somebody shoot me.)...those stories, cemented into the mythology of who I was and what I was like when I was young.

Newly four, my son is just now BARELY edging into being old enough that his memories may actually start to stick. His sister isn’t too far behind. Soon enough, they’ll do amble remembering for themselves - even without an assist from the hundreds and hundreds of digital images, and videos, and blog postings, and tweets that are piling up in the wake of their youth. But when they do go back further, beyond memory’s reach, if they ever do go back, to, or to the book that followed (The Faith of a Child) about our earliest years, they will find their dad looming LARGE, and their mom, well, mostly just there. And let’s be clear, this is NOT the way it really is around here. I’m not nearly as selfless, or savvy, or attentive, or cool as a cucumber as I may come across either.

In some ways, this skewed perspective is wired right in to how I am going about all this. It’s one of the first and maybe most important filters I use when thinking about what to share, and what not to. I put a lot out there in my posts. It’s part of my blog (and my book)’s reason for being. Guys like to give advice, to make jokes, to act tough. But to actually BE tough, to be strong, and most of all, to keep our cool and to be wise as life unfolds, I think we need a kind of honesty and transparency with one another that is all too rare - an unfiltered telling of our stories.

But that is MY sense of purpose. It sets MY threshold for how much I am comfortable putting out there. It is not necessarily the family threshold. So, on dadtoday, Ashley is ever present, always part of the best adventures, but rarely ever center stage - except on the rare occasions I break from writing about fatherhood to gush about how much I love her (I do), and how rich life is by her side (it is).

So, I suppose it is one of the benefits of our kids getting older - that soon enough they will remember for themselves their incredible, creative, joyful, irreverent, devoted, adventure-seeking, magic-making mom. And maybe they’ll ask me why that mom never quite showed up in dadtoday or in their book. And what was the big idea making myself out to be such a super dad any way? Such spin!

And maybe THAT’S the point when should saddle up for its final ride off into the sunset (or sputter off into the ether, or whatever it is blogs do to fade away into the great beyond). Because that’s another thing I’ve wondered about blogging. The on ramps are so abundant, so easy to find, so easy to ascend; but the off ramps...not so much.

Stefan Lanfer is a Boston-based dad of two, playwright, and foundation strategy guy. He blogs about “the big mysteries revealed in the small moments” of fatherhood at, and about finding time and ways to hang in there with the work you are most passionate about, even when there is no time, and when there seems to be no way at “The Write Map.” Lanfer is the author of The Faith of a Child and Other Stories of Becoming and Being Dad - a must read for any dad-to-be freaking out about the great unknowns to come. You can follow Stefan on Twitter @StefanLanfer.

Creative Common photo credits:
“Super Dad” by
Kimberly Vardeman
“Jogging into the sunset” by
Andy Hay

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