Fatherhood, in Theory and Practice

I used to love routines, particularly the way they allowed life’s more mundane aspects to slip into the background, removed from conscious decision making. Before becoming a dad, my mornings began with a predictable sequence. Coffee. Bagels. NPR. But with a newborn, routines are constantly at risk. You put your hand to her little forehead. Fever. Bye-bye, plans.

Now, with more than three years of fatherhood behind me, something has changed. My den at home was always my intellectual sanctuary, the place to which I withdrew to write and, as my wife says, “think lofty thoughts.” The change is the way those lofty thoughts now mingle more easily with the mundane ones.

Today I write with the door to my den open, something I never did before my daughter was born. She often wanders in while I’m working for a hug or a laugh or a quick spin in the big leather chair that sits in the corner. Though she’s getting better at avoiding the carefully arranged stacks of books around my desk, she’s knocked more than one weighty philosophic tome from its comfortable perch.

The increased commingling of the lofty and pedestrian that my daughter brought to my life has changed my writing. —Jeffrey NesterukFatherhood, in Theory and Practice (Chronicle)