Welcome to Portraits of Fatherhood: We’re telling the story of today’s dads.
There is no better place to witness the changing roles of men and women in the larger culture than through the lens of parenthood. But rather than speculate on what and how contemporary fathers do what they do, we’d like to bring you portraits of the dads themselves. In their own words. Would you like to be interviewed for this feature? See the end of the post for details.
NAME Dan Soderberg
HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? Born in Baltimore/Live in York, PA
ON THE WEB
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Two (9 yo boy/6 yo girl)
WORK Full-time K-12 Technology Director, Adjunct Professor
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Married
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
I worked over an hour from home until about 18 months ago. The daily commute (110 miles round trip) cut down on my time at home and served as a time consuming, daily chore. My new job is only four miles from home. I’m now able to go home for lunch, attend school events and get home in time to help with dinner and homework. We’re all much happier these days.
My wife is a stay-at-home Mom which is a huge benefit to our family. She does jewelry sales out of the house and some substitute teaching but mostly she’s our rock. She’s always present keeping our family moving forward in the right direction. She’s tremendously supportive of my adjunct teaching and freelance writing. I tend to do most of my teaching and writing work after everyone else has gone to bed. I want my kids to know that their dad works hard but they come first. I try to put my cell phone away when I get home from work until after the bedtime routine and nightly stories.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
Worst parenting moment can be interpreted many ways. The sleepless nights and diaper mishaps sure are draining in the moment but in retrospect those are all good times. Some of my best memories involve sitting up late at night gently rocking or singing a screaming baby to sleep. My daughter was a light sleeper and she woke up frequently every night until she was about 18 months. Neither my wife nor I had a full nights sleep for that entire time.
My daughter recently had a biking accident that resulted in a broken nose, concussion and severe bruising on her face. The accident and subsequent emergency room visit was probably more traumatizing to my wife and I as we ran on adrenal for a day and then crashed. Our little angel recovered quickly and thankfully didn’t require any medical intervention. The hospital trip did remind me of a similar night about five years earlier. As our daughter was just learning to walk she took off stumbling towards the front window of our house. She tripped and fell, splitting her bottom lip on the window sill in the process. She screamed as blood poured out of her swollen lip. I took her to the emergency room as my wife stayed home with our then three-year-old son. We sat in the waiting room for what seemed like hours, applying ice to the busted lip as I tried to soothe a very upset 14-month old. Finally the time came for stitches. I had to hold her legs as two nurses held my baby’s arms and head so the doctor could stitch up the wound. Hearing her scream for my help was my worst parenting moment.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
My best parenting moment, or moments, have come as a result of writing stories with my children. I’ve been doing some freelance writing and blogging for about six years. I took a class on writing for children a few years ago and the kids and I made a book as a birthday gift for my wife two years ago. My son asked if we could write a book together a few months later. Anything worth doing is worth doing well so I wanted our work to produce something that he could be proud of when he’s an adult. We spent a few months brainstorming and crafting our story. We had great fun naming our characters and developing a plot. Our hero, Elevator Jones, was a second grader that lived in an old hotel with a time-traveling elevator. We would write a chapter together in the evening which I would type after the kids were in bed. The next day my son would review the previous day’s work and decide what he liked and what he didn’t. We found an illustrator and worked together to make a our character look just right. It was a truly collaborative process and really, really fun.
I self-published the book, Elevator Jones:Volume 1, and the printed copies were delivered the night before my son’s birthday. He was shocked to open a box filled with his very own book at his birthday breakfast. Elevator Jones has been well received from friends and family. We even have a few fans as some of my son’s classmates have been clamoring for the next volume of our story. We started work on Volume 2 a few weeks ago and hope to make Elevator Jones into a series. As long as we’re having fun we’ll keep writing. The best part is that my daughter, who is making great progress as a reader in first grade, wants to write a book with me as well. She’s already provided the title and the plot. I’m hoping we can get the story written over the holiday break.
We’re looking for a few good dads.
IF you’d like to be interviewed for this feature, please write to Lisa Duggan at: [email protected]
Please write “Portraits of Fatherhood” in the subject line.