White Coat Underground

Introducing—A new blog category

Most of my readers know that I’m a dad, but I don’t write all that much about fatherhood. We have some great bloggers here who talk about being a mommy and the difficulties of being a mom and a scientist.

I’d like to add a voice about fatherhood. Every couple and every individual approaches parenthood differently. My writings, needless to say, are my experiences.

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The way my wife and I have ended up doing things has a lot to do with our earning potential—mine as a physician is much higher than hers as a teacher, so she is the primary at-home parent. This isn’t to say that my wife isn’t busy as all hell—she is. My hours are long but I perhaps have fewer conflicts, as the decision-making is settled; I go to work, I come home, and my daughter is cared for in my absence. My wife has a much more complicated day, trying to plan her own duties and desires around caring for our daughter. The main problem for me is that every time I say goodbye in the morning, a little bit of my heart is torn out and left pinned to a four-year old.

This morning was tough. The time change meant that I experienced a very rare occurrence—my alarm woke me. It also meant that PalKid wasn’t real excited about getting up. In this way, she’s much more like her mother. Neither one is a morning person. But it also meant that she let me pick her up and cuddle for a nice long time. There’s nothing so wonderful as having your kid lay her head on your shoulder and relax completely into your arms.

Of course, it only took a few minutes before she was ready to have some waffles and milk (real maple syrup of course) and watch a little TV. I figure the photic stimulation will help her wake up (or so goes my excuse for letting her watch while I get her lunch ready and get dressed).

So I hope you won’t be too troubled if from time-to-time I jot down some thoughts on fatherhood. Maybe it will stimulate a bit of discussion, maybe it won’t, but I know that I, at least, will enjoy it.


  1. #1 Larry Ayers
    March 9, 2009

    The ScienceBlogs site needs more Dad stories! My kids are grown but I have fond memories of similar morning moments.

  2. #2 Nat
    March 9, 2009

    No need to apologize. Fathers rule. 🙂

    And I’m totally down with the TV to ease the morning prep time. Though introducing my boy old Scooby Doo episodes OnDemand has made me realize that the show is 40 frickin years old!

  3. #3 Blake Stacey
    March 9, 2009

    The idea of being responsible for a tiny human being is one of the things which scares the bejebus out of me. Don’t slip up!

  4. #4 perceval
    March 9, 2009

    We would love it! My DH is the much-adored father to two sprogs. Fathers are so, so important …

  5. #5 DuWayne
    March 9, 2009

    Heh, it may tear me away from the school load and other blogs I frequent, to stop by more often… I for one, really enjoy reading about your parenting experiences.

  6. #6 dallas
    March 9, 2009

    I would love to hear about how you’re balancing medicine and fatherhood. As a soon-to-be medical student, I’m trying to figure out when to have kids and always want to hear how others balanced the rigors of medicine with parenting.

  7. #7 Isis the Scientist
    March 9, 2009

    I love that you are writing about fatherhood, Pal. It breaks my heart to leave Little Isis every morning. Rounds start early, so on those mornings I leave before he is awake. I hate those mornings.

  8. #8 DrugMonkey
    March 10, 2009

    I am not troubled at all, go ‘head and bring it Pal. Your adoration of your daughter is a GoodThing and it is cool that you can share a little of that.

    I think the comment from dallas, above, totes makes the case, anyway.

  9. #9 Abel Pharmboy
    March 10, 2009

    Agreed with all, Big Daddy. There are, without a doubt, some issues where I am completely useless and only The Mom will do. But the Dad experience is unique and important. The personal meaning of being a father and what we contribute to our kids is sometimes lost on some of our colleagues, whether they are too driven to care as much or simply feel uncomfortable expressing that they, too, wish they were home with their kids more. I have a window into what your life must be like and think that practicing medicine is often far more rigid than being a basic scientist. So, yes, what DrugMonkey said about what dallas said.

    Hell, I’ll keep coming back just to see pictures of the gorgeous PalKid!

    And Nat, re Scooby Doo: I loved explaining to my daughter what the gremlin was in the context of this 65-year-old Bugs Bunny short that I love so much.

  10. #10 Nat
    March 10, 2009

    @Abel – Now that is old. If that version of a gremlin doesn’t translate for the daughter, you could always try the 25 year old “Gremlins” movie (or the previous year’s “Twilight Zone” movie segment, if you really want to mess with your kid’s head). Sorry about all this old stuff talk; I’ve got a birthday coming up.

    Still, like Abel says, I think it’s definitely worth adding your experiences as as a dad Pal. Since our parents by and large didn’t do it this way, learning from others’ is the best we can do, beyond the painful and frustrating trial and error (which there will be plenty of regardless).

    And dallas, as the spouse of a doctor, I would say that the best times to have a kid with medical school on the horizon is post intern year, during the residency (though, that’d depend on the particular residency – my wife did medicine). Intern year would have been a killer, followed closely by fellowship year(s). If you really want to start early (and depending on your age), first or second year of med school isn’t out of the question, though it would change your experience, both then and in early residency.

    Remember though, if you wait too long, things get harder, and success rates go down.

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