New Fatherhood: The Frank Interview (September 2014)

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New Fatherhood: The Frank Interview

I wanted to share with my audience a recent interview with my husband, Frank, who you have seen here on  I'm sure some of you have wondered what Frank is like - let me say that he is a wonderful father, husband and friend.  Frank wanted to have a daughter - he told me this when we were pregnant and prior to receiving our results from the amniocentesis.  He got his wish and loves pink so much, he wanted me to paint all of the rooms the same pink color that is in our daughter's nursery!  I was tempted, but decided to keep the pink in the nursery for now.

Our family, 2014

My husband, Frank, is an attorney (for almost 15 years) working for a small firm in Boston. Once we knew we were on our way to parenthood, Frank made the announcement and could not wait for the big day!   Frank's experience during my pregnancy and after our daughter was born is one that I wanted to share for the benefit of new fathers or fathers-to-be.  Without further adieu, here's my Frank:

Joy:  Hi Frank, I wanted to interview you for and ask a few questions about your daddy experience. Can you describe how you felt once we knew we were having a daughter?

Frank: Excitement. Anticipation. My twin brother Michael is the best but I think I missed something growing up without a sister. I also spent too much time doing the 'right' thing: School and sports and part-time jobs meant studying by myself or running on all-men teams or working in restaurant kitchens. I didn't spend enough time with friendly, relaxed, interesting women. So meeting you (Joy) after law school was a real trip. You're so breezy and clever and fun. We clicked so the thought of having a mini-Joy (a daughter as bright and as lively) was perfect.  

Joy: When you told other men that you were having a baby, can you describe some of those responses and how you felt about them? Also, did you feel that these responses were helpful?

Frank: Responses ranged from helpful to non-helpful. By helpful I mean: "Having a daughter means you'll fall in love with another woman." That's my favorite. Evelyn's the other woman in my life.  Also: "Being a dad means you'll have a sense of purpose and direction you've never had before." "Being a dad means you'll always look forward to going home." By non-helpful I mean: "Being a dad means you'll be spending money for the rest of your life." Responses were mostly helpful.   

Joy: Once our daughter was born and we showed her to family and friends, what surprised you the most about their reactions? For example, your Dad, Aunts/Uncles/cousins.

Frank: Their surprise was not so much that Evelyn was born but that I was now a "father". Their surprise was (and perhaps this is my surprise that I was now a "father" projected on them): We know Frank as a guy who studied hard in school and works hard as an attorney and listens to The Who and crashes on weekends in a small apartment in Beacon Hill with his brother. But now all of a sudden he's dating a woman who works in his building (is she older?) and they're moving in together (Brookline?) and they're getting married and planning a family? and they're having a daughter after 2 years of marriage? (such a pretty baby ... looks a lot like Frank's mom ...) In any event: Everyone (to their credit) did react positively to Evelyn (as pretty, warm, cuddly, inquisitive and well-behaved as she is) but were surprised (I think) that I was now a "father" and we were now "parents". 

My wife, Joy, with our beautiful daughter!
Joy: Was it hard to return to work after being home with me for 2 weeks?

Frank: Yes. A couple days before Evelyn was born, I "entered" the tunnel ... and 2 weeks later I "exited" the tunnel ... quite an experience in the interim ... Evelyn was now our daughter and you were now a Mom and I was now a Dad ... and you were doing what Moms do (everything) (diapers, bottles, feedings, bubble-baths, onesies, check-ups, indoors, outdoors, around the clock) and, 2 weeks later, I needed to do what Dads do (return to work) (in the usual course ... we're lucky the managing attorneys at my firm knew you and understood the 'process' ...) For the initial weeks, I did worry about you and Evelyn simply because you'd never 'done this before' ... but you always 'had the hang of it' ... and we figured out a routine (for weekdays when I was at work, for weeknights when I got home, for weekends when the three of us could go out together, to beaches, museums, parks, road trips). In no time (even less than 3 weeks I think) I could be at work one moment and off and running with you and Evelyn at night the next moment to Babies-R-Us and road-trips and family dinners out.         

Joy:  How do you feel now about the time that you spend with me and our daughter?

Frank: I love it. We both know ... for you and for me ... parenting is hard work ... parenting is tiring ... but ultimately parenting is a whirlwind of an experience that re-invents itself every day ... for me, parenting filled an emptiness I didn't know existed ... we're lucky that Evelyn is sweet, loving, playful, curious and as understanding as she is (in fact, she does seem to understand us). 

Joy:  What activities do you enjoy with our daughter the most?

Frank: Parks (Minot rose garden in Brookline), museums (Peabody-Essex in Salem, MFA), beaches (Singing Beach in Manchester, when it cools off in the fall). These are wide open spaces (indoors and outdoors) where Evelyn and I can run around, chase each other, explore and play. The interaction with Evelyn and freedom of these places are the best.  
Joy:  Thank you so much Frank! xoxo.

I hope everyone enjoyed the interview with my husband, Frank, and want my fellow parents to feel that they now have the truth about new fatherhood.  I think new fathers and fathers-to-be will find this interview to be very revealing.  Frank's words, I'm sure, will resonate with many new fathers, fathers-to-be and experienced fathers out there and I wish you all the best!

Happy family fun everyone!
Joy E.
Posted September 28, 2014
The Earle Family, Arnold Arboretum, 2014

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