Father Love: How Men Are Creating New Meaning By Becoming Great Dads

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Mike King is a successful dentist as well as successful stand-up comic, two professions that are challenging to do individually and almost impossible to imagine combining. To relax the kids, he incorporates comedy, magic tricks, and jokes into his treatment. He has been living in New York City for many years working as a pediatric dentist while making adults laugh. He has appeared on Comedy Central; even opening for comic giant Ray Romano. Clearly, he is a rare human being.

            When I met Mike recently I learned that he has a powerful story to share with men, one even more impressive than what he does with his professional work. It is a story about love– first falling in love with his wife–but then the love story goes even deeper. It is a wonderful, adventurous, and frightening hero’s journey, one that brought me to tears many times.

            Mike was in his fifties when he met Gaby. When he was young, his Jewish mother hoped he would marry a woman of the same faith. Mike notes, that with the passage of time, like all good mothers everywhere she came around.

“She was just glad I found a mammal to marry,”

he said with tongue in cheek (or in his case, maybe tongue in the holes created by his missing wisdom teeth). She became enchanted by his intelligent, beautiful French bride, Gabriella.

            Gaby was determined to become a mom, but Mike wasn’t so sure. He loves his career and worries that fatherhood will get in the way of fun, travel, and sexy nights alone with his sexy young wife. But he wants to support Gaby and make her happy—happy wife, happy life, right?—and so they get busy….doing it.

            This is where I need to tell you about the book that chronicles Mike and Gaby’s journey. The book is called Dad Spelled Backward: A Journey Through the Maze of Love, Marriage, and Adoption. I’ll warn you. Its drop dead funny (he is a real comic, believe me), but the book will touch your heart as well as your funny bone. You’ll also meet Mike’s best friend, Richard, who gives Mike the benefit of his long experience with children.

“The number-one simplest bit of advice for getting pregnant seemed to be this: just do it,”

Mike writes.

“Do it as much as you can. Richard summed it up best. Just do it every day, twice a day, every hour if needed. Don’t even think about it. Just do it all the time. Think rabbit. You’re a giant, horny, humping, fucking rabbit.”

            Mike soon learned there were definitely some benefits to baby-making.

“We did it more often and everywhere: in the kitchen, on the floor, in the car, in the bathroom of a friend’s house, on the beach, on a hike, in a movie theater, while she was on the phone with her parents. It was sick!”

            Sick, maybe? But it was fun and Gaby was up for the fun and games.

“How about in my office—or better yet, in my boss’s office, under her desk? Gaby suggested.”

They had a great time, but no pregnancies were forthcoming. This is part of the hero’s journey where the hero has to go into the wilderness to face the dragons.

            In Mike’s case, it was their decision to adopt and the hell-and-high-water they had to go through in the process. As Mike learned, domestic adoption is often a long, costly process that takes couples on a crazy-making, unpredictable ride from hope to despair and back again. When one adoption after another falls through, Mike thinks that maybe it is life’s way of telling him he is too old for fatherhood or too set in his ways, or just not destined to be a Dad. Somewhere Mike realizes that he wants a baby just as much as Gaby and they redouble their efforts to find the baby Mike comes to believe is waiting for them.

            I will admit that reading about Mike’s sex life was fun and hilariously funny, but being with him through the adoption process was both heart-breaking and love-making on a whole different level. My wife and I went through the adoption process ourselves. When we met in college at U.C. Santa Barbara and fell in love, we talked marriage and children like most couples do. We decided to have a child, then adopt a child. It seemed so simple and noble at the time.

            With the state of the world as it is, why not adopt a child who needs loving parents and a good home, rather than bringing two new beings into the world? After our son, Jemal, was born, we began the adoption process. We thought it would be easy. Our only requirement was that we wanted a little girl who was healthy and younger than our son. We didn’t require that she be white. We knew we could love a child, regardless of race.

            When we began the adoption process, like Mike’s experience, it was my wife who most wanted a baby. I mostly wanted to please her. I was busy with my career and I figured my main job was to be the primary breadwinner in the family. Although I never put it into words, I believed that she would be mostly involved during the baby years and I would step up to daddy-hood when it was time to decide which sport they would pick—basketball being my preference.

            But that’s not what happened. When we finally got the call from the adoption agency, we drove to Los Angeles to see the baby that might be ours. When they uncovered the blanket and I looked into the eyes of my beautiful, black, two-and-a half month old baby-girl, I fell in love. It is like nothing I’ve ever felt. With our first son, there was a kind of inevitability of his coming into the world from my wife’s body. Adopting Angela felt more like a choice. I chose her and she chose me and I wanted to a fully involved dad with my children.

            There may have been a time for some when hands on, day-to-day, daddyhood, began when children were older, but for me and Mike and for millions of other fathers, we soon learned that love begins earlier and lasts forever and men want to be much more involved with our children and our own fathers were. Being a dad is infinitely more difficult and demanding than I ever imagined. It is also infinitely more rewarding than anything I ever hoped to achieve in my life.

            Fatherhood quickly became the cornerstone of my life following the birth of our first son, Jemal in 1969 and our daughter, Angela, in 1972. My on-line media company, MenAlive, was birthed shortly thereafter. My goal then, and now, is to help create a world where men are healthy in body, mind, and spirit and are fully involved with their families throughout their lives.

            If you are a dad, you know what I mean. If you are considering having children or becoming an adoptive parent or foster parent, I encourage you to go for it. If you’d like to learn more about Mike and his wonderful book, Dad Spelled Backward: A Journey Through the Maze of Love, Marriage, and Adoption, you can get more information here.            

If you would like to know more about my work, come visit me at MenAlive.com. If you’d like to help us create a better world for all, check out our Moonshot for Mankind

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