Thursday, 19 April 2012

Punk Rock Dad?

DISCLAIMER: The following post comes dangerously close to sounding like fatherly advice which, clearly, I am in no position to be dispensing.

Hey, Owen. It hit me today: I'll never have the same freedom and flexibility I had before you were born. I always knew this in the back of my mind, of course, but for some reason it suddenly felt real to me today and I got a sense of what that actually means.

And it pains me to admit it, but I’m grieving right now.

Grieving that this upcoming all-too-short Yukon summer I won’t be able pedal home from work, yell to your Mom that I’m going for a ride, grab the dog, switch bikes and head out the back gate. Grieving that when my riding buddies are gathering Saturday mornings building their form with long spins up the highway I’ll probably be home, fitness languishing, trying in vain to get you to go down for your nap.  Grieving that I’ll be reading the results of local races, wondering how I could have done if I actually had time to train… and actually had time to show up on the start line, of course.

OK…I  just realized that all these things I’m  supposedly grieving for are actually just one thing: pedaling a bicycle.

I’m SUCH a dick.

But I can’t deny that I’m feeling this way… and there’s a heavy sense of guilt that comes along with it. I’m assuming I’m not the first Dad to have these feelings, but you’re not supposed to admit this stuff. Especially Dads like me who dreamt of becoming a father and endured two years of disappointment along the way and grappled with the heart wrenching thought that we might not ever be able to have a child at all.

SIDE NOTE: I just had the sinking feeling that I'm using the term “heart wrenching” a little too much on these posts. I would hate to think that if someone ever Googled “heart wrenching” this blog about my son would pop-up as the first hit. So…


Where was I? Ah, yes,  grief, guilt, and heart wrenching disappointment…

My friend Breda asked me the other day if I ever regretted having you, and the truth is, I hesitated before I answered. But only because she was asking earnestly and out of genuine interest and I felt like she deserved an honest answer rather than the automatic, “Heavens, no! Of course not! I wasn't even a whole person before I became a parent!”

Here’s the truth: I feel happy, blessed and grateful every single day that you are in my life. But on some days I also feel resentful, and I grieve for my former autonomy.

Ouch. That hurts to admit. I'm pretty sure parents aren't supposed to say that kind-of thing. I might be in for some hateful comments if anyone actually reads this far.

The truth is these two things, my joy and my grief,  are totally compartmentalized – one doesn’t diminish the other.

I have a theory: Of course there needs to be some serious compromise when a person becomes a parent,  but I think what's even more important is the process of reinvention that needs to take place where you're still "you", but you're somehow also the guy trying to be a good Dad.

Having a kid can be sort-of like getting caught in an avalanche if you let it – where you forget about absolutely everything and everyone else and just try to survive. But I maintain that you need to still be the person you were before you became a parent.

I know by now this is far from an easy thing to do. You have to fight for it. You have to fight to be loving and respectful of your partner even when you can’t remember the last time you slept for more than 2 hours straight (yup, sorry prospective parents). You have to fight to still be involved in your community somehow. You have to fight to find time to read, write, follow your muse... And yes, you have to fight to find the time and energy to ride your bike. And you have to carry-on this fight without compromising the health and happiness of your child or your partner.

I recently finished the book, “Punk Rock Dad” written by the lead singer of the punk band Pennywise ( My brother, Steve, gave it to me probably as a novelty read than anything else; He and I attended our fair share of punk shows together. I had the obligatory “Sex Pistols” and “Dead Kennedys” markered on the side of my Chucks in high school and I try to hang onto some of  that “question authority” and DIY ethos today (and I hope you inherit a bit of it... a *BIT* of it).

 I was expecting the book to be a bunch of contrived anecdotes by the author, Jim Lindberg, lamely trying to prove that even though he's a dad now, he’s still a bad-ass punk rocker. In fact, I was stoked to realize he actually had lots of insightful stuff to say about what it means to be a dad. Especially what it means to be a GOOD dad while still holding onto the values that make you the person you are.

I appreciate this. Because, after all, if nothing else your kid probably deserves to know the real you.

For better or worse.


The other day I was pretty ticked-off at a harried store clerk who treated me to a special dose of rudeness and incompetence. I brought my bitterness with me as I carried you out to the parking lot in your seat. There was just something in how you looked at me as I buckled you in, “Oh, alright.”  I sighed. Quick stop at (unnamed major coffee retailer) and we were back at the store with a gift certificate for the agitated clerk of my contempt. “Seems like you’re having a busy day.” says I, “Maybe when you get a break you can grab a coffee on me.”  She pretty much melted.

If you let it, becoming a parent can make you the most bitter, exhausted, cynical person you know. But if you let it, it can also drag you (kicking and screaming in my case) closer to being the kind-of person you want your kid to grow up to be.


Where to start? In the last few weeks you have started eating “real” food (if mushed-up rice gunk qualifies), had a couple of teeth poke through, and in general seem to be using your hands and mouth to interact with and explore your world more than ever. But my favourite recent milestone by far is the introduction of your “Jolly Jumper”.  You especially like bouncing to Reel Big Fish cranked-up on the stereo while Dad *skanks in the living room. 

*Skanking (from the Urban Dictionary)  

The bizarre, wild dance done to the music known as Ska. Not to be confused with a, "skank" skanking resembles running in place while flailing your arms.  Unskilled skankers are sometimes mistaken for seizure victims.
Ex: Good Skanker: Most Reel Big Fish fans. Identifiable by their large sunflower sunglasses and festive attire.


  1. This was a good read parker. All I wanted to do on easter weekend was park the truck at the summit and snowboard all weekend. I talked amanda into a sitter on friday. We had a great day up there, with plans of returning the next day with olly and snowshoes. Olly got chicken pox or foot and mouth disease. So we spent the rest of that blue bird weekend home bound with a sick child....grrrrr. You should get the movie "the other f-word" google it. I thought it would be one thing but it turned out to be something else, in a good way.


  2. I read everything you write and take it to heart but it takes ALL of my Aunty willpower not to just scroll down until I can see that sweet boys face in your far too few pics that you post!!

  3. Spidey,
    Keep it up. Be sure to keep adding after pics, like after Liz sees you told everybody it was her fault Owen fell off the sofa, after Owen gets mobile and you realize how easy it was before that.
    And it's not wrong to miss your bike/other toys.

  4. As a parent it's important to be able skank...

  5. Ian,
    Don't worry, it all starts to come back together when they are 12 and you can leave them home alone! Time will fly!

  6. So excited to find the blog!

    I simultaneously envy your role as a parent and am so glad I am not one!