Reservoir Dad – The Book by Clint Greagen
Bantam Australia RRP: $32.99
You’ll love it if you’re into:
– parenting blogs
-‘new man’ humour (like Nick Earls or Nick Hornby)
For more information visit: Random House Books Australia
Recent estimates put the number of Australian fathers choosing to be stay-at-home-dads at around 100,000, and rising. It’s a logical choice for many families, particularly if the other partner is the bigger earner, but I’ve often wondered whether it gets a little lonely out there in the sea of Mummy-and-Me yoga classes and coffee mornings. I’ve had all my questions answered by the hilarious new book from Daddy-blogger supreme Clint Greagen – aka Reservoir Dad.
When Clint and wife Tania made the decision to let Daddy handle the home front while Mummy brought in the bacon, they were sharing life with just one tiny bundle of joy. Fast forward a few years and there are 4 cheeky chaps keeping this busy household alive with blog fodder. Clint keeps it real (and keeps his sanity) like many other bloggers by sharing his family stories with a fast growing readership. His sharp writing and moving observations won him a Best Australian Blog Award last year and it’s easy to see why. There are many, many bloggers telling many, many parenting anecdotes out there but when you find one that genuinely makes you laugh, cry and everything in between, you keep going back for more.
Reservoir Dad – The Book weaves the insightful anecdotes into a chronology of this family’s evolution from funky-young-urban-professional-couple to full throttle life in the parenting trenches. It’s a story lots of us can relate to and it’s packed with the moments of family life we’ve probably all experienced, and read about, before: first days with a newborn, how to have a successful date night, kids say the darndest things and so on. The twist here, though, is in the no holds barred male perspective. Greagen’s storytelling also stands out from the crowd for its ability to swing between bawdy humour and insightful zingers that hit you like an arrow through the heart.
I’ve read other books about fatherhood, but not about stay-at-home-fatherhood and the brave new world such trail blazers inhabit. Clint’s participation in the Northern Dad’s Group, for example, is illuminating on a range of levels:
“11.20: The group moves outside. Children jump on the trampolines, kick balls and pressure Dads into pushing them on the swing. Dads begin to move towards and away from each other, forming small groups and then dispersing, and then forming new groups while having semi-serious conversations. […] The topics being covered by each group are as follows:
- Jack and Ben: global warming, backyard maintenance and sex
- Dan and Joe: hangovers, kids, cricket, immunisations and sex
- Kelvin and Simon: children’s pop-up books, how great kids are and sex
11.26: It occurs to me that I instigate two out of every three conversations about sex.”
The book opens up a great conversation about how a Dad can maintain his blokiness whilst doing all the things traditionally viewed as women’s roles – from the sharing of chores to the sharing of group small talk. There’s no question that Dads are equally capable of nurturing children, but socially we are still geared towards professional paid work as a marker of identity…’So, what do you do?’. Clint also embodies the educated and aware ‘new man’ whose baser urges (like ogling revealing billboards) are pitted against his genuine respect for women and belief in equality. It’s a tricky time to know how to ‘get it right’ as a man, let alone as a Dad.
The male perspective on many common parenting adventures is really refreshing, especially if (like me) you’ve read, heard or shared approximately one million mummy stories in the past few years. The post-baby-body is replaced with the ‘bitch tit’ dilemma; the anguish of early breastfeeding here is an emotional pain felt by the helpless bystander longing for his wife and child to get that goddamn latch happening. The chapter titled ‘The Man’s Mentally Sexy Manifesto’ is the smartest, funniest, most touching and least selfish description of trying to keep the spark alive in a long term relationship that I’ve ever read. They should hand it out in brochure form to newlyweds.
But don’t let me give the impression that this book is all about sex. Surviving family life without losing the ability to string sentences together hangs on being able to over-analyse all kinds of the least likely components of your day. In that space, Greagen is the master. Here’s my favourite thought bubble (taken from a moment when young Lewis has projectile vomited all over the car):
“The last song we were listening to in the car was the children’s classic: ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’, but I’m almost certain this was not the cause of the sudden outbreak of illness (because as a family we find it to be an uplifting song that rewards the astute listener with its punchy beat and repetitive lyrics at the same time that it projects a sense of order and predictability about the world and an awareness that we’re part of a collection of souls reacting to the peaks and pits of life in a uniform, and, most likely, biologically predetermined way). “
I’ve often thought the same thing about The Wiggles.
Reservoir Dad – The Book is as entertaining and educational as Greagen’s successful blog continues to be. In book form, it will hopefully reach a new audience of battle weary parents, including other stay-at-home-dads in the market for some solidarity.