Friday, November 19, 2010

Legacy of the Superman

I was looking to feed my geek side today on by looking through some of the interpretive works on some of my favorite comic characters. When I was looking through the Superman pictures, I noticed that hardcore fans of the character have a hard time letting go of their favorites. Now, it's not so much the character of Superman whose legacy I want to talk about as it is Christopher Reeve's embodiment of the character that has left a lasting impression on our culture.

There are countless iterations of Superman with the likeness of Reeves. Why is that? Superman has already returned to the big screen with Brandon Routh taking his shot at the icon. How did he not stack up to a movie and special effects that were decades in the past? Why is it, that every Superman that comes after wards will have to be compared to the original big screen Supes? It is more than the ability to act the part, to show the powers, and to be the secret identity. It is a high expectation that were shown. This icon was cemented into culture, because when watching the movie, we forgot about Reeves, and were watching Superman. Superman Returns was a disappointment because we found ourselves in the theaters watching a soap opera actor try, and fail to become the character. The legacy of Superman has become tarnished because the bar was set so high, and we as fans will not tolerate a mediocre showing when we know what is possible.

What does this have to do with manhood or fatherhood? That's a good question, and I'll talk about it on two issues. First of all, I have somewhat alluded to my own examples of fatherhood growing up. Well, I have the pleasure of being married to a woman whose father was a Christopher Reeves, and I'm Brandon Routh trying to fill shoes I don't fully understand. My wife is a missionary's kids, her dad is now the associate pastor at the church. When you talk about a man being a spiritual head of a house, he IS it. There are things she became accustomed to growing up that I don't even know how to do for her. The bar for being the man of the house was set very high for me, and I'm still trying to reach it. Her dad has created a legacy and an example of what she expects that makes me continue to strive to be a better and better husband and father.

On the second issue... Superman is a perfect analogy of Manhood vs. Dadhood. What is it that Superman did for the citizens of Earth? He provided security, stability, enforcement, and the respect and awe that no matter what, he would be there for us. Superman is the Dadhood side! In apparent opposition is Clark Kent, his humanity, the frailty of his relationships, his childhood, his past, his attachments... his Manhood. These two sides of the character are both parts of the whole, and both necessary for creating a complete person. Without one, the other is unnecessary.

So now, the question for me is not what happened to my examples of Superman and Clark Kent? Where is the legacy that I'm supposed to look to? Instead, I'm asking myself how to be Supes and Clark for my kids. How I will show them strength and vulnerability. How I will show them how to fail and try again, and be that stable security they need. How to enforce the rules, and break them with them on occasion. I love my kids... and it only takes one lifetime to build a legacy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Biggest Room in the World...

As I continue to lay the groundwork for the discussion of being a dad while searching for manhood, I want to explain some assumptions I will be making.

The number one assumption is that fatherhood is relative. As a father to our kids, and as a friend and husband to our wives, what we do is relative to expectations. The fatherless just want someone around, and those with fathers seek their approval. Single-parent homes want stability, and nuclear families search for excitement. What one father struggles to do for his family, another sees as a minimal requirement.

All that to say this: No matter what you're doing as a father, you can always do more, or be better. After high school football games where my team won 40-0, my step-dad would ask, "What's the biggest room in the world?" The answer to this question is simply, "The room for improvement." Regardless of how much you think you're doing, you can always be doing more.

I don't mean this to imply that no father is ever doing enough. However, the moment we become complacent, we stagnate. How do we expect to help our children grow when we stop growing ourselves? I will not engage in discussions of details. I will not try to determine who does more, or comparative arguments. I strongly believe that we can always do more, not matter what place we are at in life.

Thanks for taking amoment to read this. Please follow along and join the discussion.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Manhood vs. Dadhood Mission Statement

It took me a few hours to come up with a name for a personal online identity that I felt would help me to create a positive personal online community.  As I reflected on my life, I have been known as many things.  I was a good student, I was a high school football star and a college athlete, I am married for 6 years now, I have 2 kids (one and four), and as a special education teacher I already have a Professional Learning Community through my @EmeraldCitySpEd identity.  It is my role as the Man of the House and father to my son and daughter that I wanted to be known for.  Now, I do not fall into the normal Young Black Male stereotypes as growing up without a father-figure in a broken home... or at least I thought I didn't.  It wasn't until I was 19 years old that I had a revelation that I was fatherless, and that has had a deep effect on me since then. 

Back when I had the real possibility of getting married in my early twenties, I had my reservations.  My hesitation did not stem from my now wife of 6 years, but from my family history.  My mother was with her third husband, my step-dad, who was on his second marriage.  Without a clear, or positive, example of what marriage is supposed to look like, how could I be able to have a successful one myself?

My reservations didn't stop with marriage, but with raising kids.  I was very anxious when we were pregnant with our first child.  Thankfully, our first was a girl, and my step-dad set the bar pretty low for raising a well-adjusted young woman.  On the other hand,  my son is about to have his first birthday, and my concern is going to be how to turn this boy into a man when I barely found the way myself.  I though I grew p with a good example in my step-dad, but it is difficult to listen to someone's teachings and ignore the decisions they make in their personal life.  Some things are just unforgivable by man. 

All this to say that I'm trying to come into my own as a man and as a dad, while trying to figure out how to take this baby that will grow into a boy, and make him a man someday. 

So why do I have Manhood in opposition to Dadhood? 
Quite simply, they are viewed as conflicting by society.  I want to examine what it takes to be a man, and what it takes to be a dad (and a husband when necessary), and discover why the two do not always mesh.  So the title of the blog, and my Twitter name @ManvDadhood, are just the ice-breakers to a social discussion I hope to start.

Please feel free to follow me on my journey, and join in with comments. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MvD Mission Statement [coming soon]

A clear explanation of why I named this blog what I did is coming sometime this week.  Please check back soon!