Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dadditude

I'm off to a bookstore later today for a fundraising book fair sponsored by our PTA. I have a gift card and I'll make myself stop when I've used it up. For me, buying books is like eating chocolate; it's really hard to stop. That's one reason I enjoy doing book reviews. I need no pay for these; the complimentary book is enough. I can find a new home for the book later, since most of my friends and colleagues enjoy reading as much as I do. However, I do try to stick to books that I can review honestly, stories with which I have some connection.

Dadditude, by Philip Lerman, turned out to be one of those.

Dadditude's subtitle is "How a real man became a real Dad". Philip Lerman was a man's man in a man's world, doing a macho job in a tough and manly field; he was an executive producer on the television show America's Most Wanted. Let's put this in perspective: he talked to police officers, local, state, and national, and heard and dealt with stories of increasing violence on a daily basis. He managed teams of reporters and directed well-known television host John Walsh.
Then Lerman became a dad.
When he and his wife, Rachel, decided to have a child, they were in their late forties. Time was running out on their biological clocks. They were willing and eager and sped through medical fertility processes at a speed that would make a pregnant mom nauseous. Oh, wait, that doesn't take much. But I digress. Typical of "older" parents, Lerman thought that since he'd handled cops and reporters and managed a television empire, he could certainly deal with something as simple and tiny as a child.
I hear you chuckling. Snickering. All of you parents who learned the hard way about the sleepless nights, the terrible twos, and the indescribable worries that come with motherhood and fatherhood, you know of which I speak. And at this point you can predict that Lerman's Dadditude contains a lot of familiar moments and funny anecdotes that will make you laugh out loud and say, "Oh, been there, done that. So true it is!" And you will. I certainly did.
Phil Lerman's chapter titles hin at the wealth within. "The Vagina Dialogues" -- who else but families dealing with infertility can discuss reproductive organs so calmly and carelessly toss about language that'll make most of us blush? Well, maybe the middle school sex ed teacher can. Trust me on that one.
"To Dream, Perchance to Sleep." Anyone who's raised a child can nod in understanding. Unique to Lerman's perspective is his age: a 40-something dad has a harder time dealing with little or no sleep than one in his twenties. As he floats seamlessly from serious anecdotes to lines that bring laughter in snorts, readers realize that this dad's not kidding when he describes "...the delirium caused by the sleep deprivation."
I hear your question: How can a 40-something mom of a teen and a college student feel any kinship with a couple that became parents at, well, the age I am now?
Trust me: you'll never forget. I think I'm still making up for sleep that I missed when my kids were babies. It doesn't take much imagination to think about how grateful I am that I'm not lifting a two-year-old to a diaper table with my middle-aged back and aching knees. It was much easier twenty years younger. But even as I admire (and question the sanity of) parents who start their families later in life, I remember well the hassles of potty training. The growth charts. The guilt and the worry of leaving a child in preschool and day care, even though I was a preschool/child care teacher myself.
So Lerman's transition from the macho world of television (where my husband makes his living these days) to the confines of the stay-at-home father is anything but smooth. We readers should be grateful for that, because a smooth transition wouldn't have given Lerman such wonderful stories to tell.
Yes, I recommend Dadditude for a fun and fascinating read. Buy it for Father's Day or read it now; you'll enjoy it.

Mr. Lerman provided me with a free copy of this book in order to review it. I will be passing it on to other dads I know will enjoy it -- that is, after Husband reads it himself!

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2 Comments:

Blogger Flea said...

Thank you for the recommendation! The book sounds excellent.

2/10/2008 2:51 PM  
Blogger G's Cottage said...

This is an excellent review and I'll keep the book in mind for when the boys decide to follow their sister's journey into parenthood.

Your mention of the blushing and the sex ed teacher reminded me of being at a special event at church and someone introducing me to the school district psychologist. My youngest was at my side. He looked up and said in a carrying voice: "I know you; you're the 'good touches, bad touches' lady."

2/11/2008 5:44 AM  

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