What to read

The day we got confirmation of my wife’s pregnancy, I did what I always do when getting ready to explore something new: I sought out research materials. Sometimes I use the bookstore; other times I stop by the library. This time seemed like one worth buying rather than borrowing, so I went to a place in Newton called the New England Mobile Book Fair. It’s not mobile at all, and it has an astounding number of books in stock without the contrived living room or Upper West Side cafe atmosphere.

I was eager to jump into the literary world of fatherhood, being an expecting father and all. But I got to the aisle of pregnancy and parenting books, and I got hit with a harsh reality (perhaps the first of many on this journey): There’s very little in print for fathers compared to all of the various books about pregnancy from the mother’s perspective and motherhood itself. There was one book about being a Jewish father, which I’m sure has its use, but I’m not Jewish.

The lack of fatherhood materials is partially what led me to start this blog. I haven’t done much Internet research on fatherhood yet, but my guess is there is more out there than in bookstores.

I left with one book, “Baby Bargains,” which had been recommended a while back by a friend with a 3-and-a-half-year-old.

It’s a Consumer Reports-style volume that reviews all kinds of baby products from formula to high chairs, and it also gives great recommendations on how to economize. It has suddenly become a Bible of baby products in our household.

Another trip to the bookstore was in order. This time my wife and I went to the very Barnes and Noble where I ran into her parents nearly seven years before and asked them to have her call me. It was also the place we had stopped on dates for a coffee and a magazine. This time, we were there to find a book for me about being a dad. How time flies, and boy I never imagined this as the outcome of a friendly reacquaintence.

As we were just getting engrossed in the parents-to-be section, a colleague of my wife’s walked up and started chatting with her. It was clear what we were looking at, though luckily my wife’s not showing yet, so we could lay off our deep interest in these books on a friend of hers. Conversation ensued and I knew I was doomed in finding a book for me. I grabbed a copy of “The Everything Father-To-Be Book,” a sort of Dads for Dummies version of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” I said it was for the friend’s husband and we parted company.

The Everything book is good so far. It really stresses that the mom rules from now on, and that I’m supposed to do everything I can to make her life real easy. I can do that, as long I don’t feel taken advantage of. That would be hard to do considering my wife is really doing all the hard work. She’s the builder and I’m the helper that hands her the tools and keeps the work site clean.

But this book shouldn’t be the only thing out there for expecting dads. Is it? Is there anything more substantive? My wife’s “What to Expect” book goes through the various stages of the pregnancy week by week and mine has pictures of a man in funny socks putting together a crib.

Does anyone out there know of any other books? I’ve never been one to read a “Chicken Soup” book, but is there something like that? Can anyone say why it’s so hard to find good expecting-dad books? I can understand why there are so many women’s books, that’s obvious, but I would think today’s partner mentality would have led to a wider selection of father’s books. This was a surprise to me, and I guess the lesson I should learn from this is that I’m in for a lot of surprises from now on.

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