Being a Dad is amazing, by far the best thing I’ve ever done. But it ain’t easy and I want to get better at it. So, like most areas I want to improve, I hit the books. And the books are generally woeful. As someone who loves reading I found parenting books to be a chore, boring and badly written. Home Game is the best I’ve read, it’s real and rings true and it’s funny. Being a parent is many things but most of the time it’s entertaining, often hilarious. Kids are funny creatures. Why aren’t the books?
“Memory loss is the key to human reproduction. If you remembered what new parenthood was actually like you wouldn’t go around lying to people about how wonderful it is, and you certainly wouldn’t do it twice.”
Lewis is good at talking about being a crap Dad. His computer gets pinched and he has a book due so he gets away with doing the bare minimum of Fatherhood. Just enough that his kids don’t run in terror when he enters the house. He can see that his family falls apart at this but he needs to get the book done. We’ve all thought about it. Well I have, what if I work more, do more jiu-jitsu and write more while ignoring the family?
The humour is dry and sharp and cuts through the crap around parenting. Not many books make me laugh out loud as much as this. He’s brilliant on how his wife thinks of so many things that he doesn’t. Like preparing the scene when his two daughters meet their baby brother for the first time. Or getting them ready for puberty. And how he’s often wrong. What he considers a victory his wife will see as a devastating loss.
It helps that we share similar views on many aspects of parenting. His descriptions of the ‘ideal Berkely birth’ sound familiar. He also talks about his redundancy in the birthing process. Then the ‘over-whelming tsunami of self-pity’ that he knows will submerge him. While his wife recovers he will have to do everything and being a selfish bastard like we all are, he’d rather not.
He’s so funny at how family imposes on his work. He needs to keep earning money to pay for all their expenses. But how will he ever manage that when they do not let him sleep? Or how when left to him the standards slip.
‘Just four weeks after the birth of my son, both of my daughters are living, in effect, outside the law…They are like a pair of convicts in a Soviet Gulag with nothing more than they need to survive–and still they continue to subvert they authorities’.
Home Game is not just a funny memoir, there’s real insight into Fatherhood and how to do it better. Lewis writes about the confusion we feel as Fathers. This leads us to concede to our Partners and their superior parenting knowledge. How the division of labour with the growing family meant that he could ‘get away’ with spending less time with the new kid. It was only when he was forced into caring for him that he bonded.
‘If you want to feel the way you’re meant to feel about the new baby, you need to do the grunt work.’