One thing that I have found, though, is that there is a standard by which I can judge my own work, and as a result, also a template I can copy. I have a story created by photos and anecdotes that provide me with information about how I can raise these kids appropriately, and get them to turn out "right." Or, I guess, at least like I did.
A sort of "mythic drama," if you will.
Engaging in mythic drama, to me, is the act of taking stories or actions and repeating them because either
- They have been memorized and you unconsciously follow the directions they provide, like understanding the world in relation to myths, ritualized actions, or even song lyrics.
- Finding maps and clues about ways to accomplish things you have no context for by creating a story out of thin air, and diving into it wholeheartedly.
What I realized is that I have many of the photos, and I learn more anecdotes all the time, that detail how I was raised, and the things we did. And in having access to them, I have access to a sort of myth about how I became the person I am today.
One of the first things I looked to was a particular photo of my dad feeding me. Fortunately, it was dated, so I know when it took place: two days short of my two month birthday.
Dad and Me
I set it up with my wife to match the photo. It was a sort of silly thing: posing with my kids just like that original photo. But creating and engaging in mythic drama is not about being serious or even necessarily having belief. It is, instead, about understanding (either consciously or unconsciously) what has been done before and respecting it as a useful and joyful experience.
And so, when my twins were two days shy of their two month birthday, I sat down and we took some photos.
Amelia Ann | Leo Colin
It made me feel better, like I was doing the right thing, that I was a good dad. More than that, it actually made me into a good dad, because to me, this is a picture good dads take with their kids. The proof is irrefutable: my dad did it, right?
The process of "making myself into a good dad" is not an easy one. There aren't textbooks or qualified experts (contrary to the belief you might form if you look at all the parenting books in the bookstore). All you can do is what you know is right. (Of course, I also had some help and a bear hunt)
But I'm getting there, and every little thing that makes me feel like I've "made it" is huge to me.