Tom Kreffer was able to share his thoughts on fatherhood with me. We talk about his fatherhood journey and how he prepared for fatherhood. After that we talk about his book, Dear Dory. Lastly we finish the interview with the Fatherhood Quick Five.
Tom Kreffer On Fatherhood
Art Eddy: What popped into your mind when you found out you were going to be a dad?
Tom Kreffer: It felt immediately real; this instant acceptance that I was set to become a father. And then I was overcome with emotion and this overwhelming uncertainty about what the next eight months looked like.
AE: What are some of the core values you look to instill in your kids as they grow up?
TK: To treat others with love and kindness. And for them to treat themselves in that manner as well. I feel that’s as good a foundation to aim for as any. Everything else that I believe in can grow and develop from there.
AE: What is something that you learned from your kids about yourself or about life in general?
TK: The biggest lesson by far is the rediscovery of being present. It’s an attribute that comes so easily to children. Then it’s stripped away from them as they transition into adults, encouraged to lay aside games and follow this so-called ‘normal’ life. Fatherhood has helped me to recapture that ability to be present, and it’s now something I practice every day. Yes, bills need paying, but nothing beats going along for the ride as a toddler explores a new environment for the first time. It’s a wonderful thing to behold.
AE: What is the most important piece of advice you have for new dads?
TK: Let me give two. The first follows my previous answer about being present. It is vital that you somehow find the time and space to be 100 percent present with your baby. There exists only one moment to meet them for the first time. You need to make such a sacred moment count. I say that because watching a woman give birth is an emotionally battering experience. And for you to transition from that to meeting and holding your newborn baby for the first time is quite the jolt.
My second piece of advice is to take as much time off as possible. Hang out with your baby during the early days. People’s circumstances will differ. Many may not have the luxury, but if the option is available, take it. You have no idea how quickly the newborn stage passes (or any of the phases for that matter).
Tom Kreffer On His Book Dear Dory
AE: Talk about Dear Dory: Journal of a Soon-to-be First-time Dad and Dear Arlo: Adventures in Dadding : what inspired you to start writing this series of books?
TK: Nothing. Dear Dory began as a personal journal. It was a project never meant to be read by anyone other than me and maybe my family. I fell into the daily practice of writing to my unborn child. I began to wonder if anyone else found pregnancy from a soon-to-be dad’s perspective as bonkers. It is fascinating and as scary and as surreal as I found it. It was only when I discovered that I had a talent for writing and that this kind of book didn’t exist out there in the market. I began to wonder if I was inadvertently becoming an author.
Tom On Dear Arlo
When I finished Dear Dory (pregnancy from a soon-to-be dad’s point of view), I had no reason to stop. So I kept going and wrote Dear Arlo (year one of parenthood). My books are in no way a how-to guide for other parents. They’re just the story of me blindly shuffling forward, trying to find my way around the maze that is parenthood. And ironically, it’s my lack of knowledge that helps others. They identify with my journey, one that we all take as parents.
Tom On His New Book
My new book Toddler Inc. retains this format. As it’s my third book. I would say I’ve really found my confidence as a writer. That confidence has enabled me to take creative license with the journaling format. I’ve always had a lot of praise for the combination of humor and honesty in my books, and I think Toddler Inc. is the strongest and most creative of the series so far while maintaining my commitment to openness.
AE: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
TK: That they’re not alone, that parenthood is probably the most challenging and rewarding thing another human can do and that it’s OK to feel like you’re not nailing life.
What His Family Thinks Of The Book Series
AE: What does your family think of the book?
TK: They’re very proud. My partner pretends to be affronted about how I talk about her. Admittedly, she lands herself in the firing line a lot. She secretly likes it. Northampton, where I live, is not somewhere I’m originally from, so I’m not well known. But my partner is. People have stopped her in the supermarket and asked her if she’s Miss Heidi from Dear Dory. She feigns annoyance with a classic ‘what-is-he-like’ roll of the eyes, but she gets more attention from my books than I do. Whether she admits it or not, she likes it.
As for Arlo, well, I thought long and hard about what he’ll think about all of this when he’s grown up, and I asked many other parents for advice before Dear Dory came out. Everyone said some variation of the same thing: they would be fascinated if their parents had maintained journals when they were younger. I’m hoping that trend continues and he’ll understand the rationale of why our story is out in the world.
The Fatherhood Quick Five
AE: Do you guys have a favorite family movie that you all love to watch together?
TK: Arlo is still too young to sit through an entire movie, but my favorite film is Hook. I think that’s an excellent contender for the title. I’ve also repeatedly told Arlo – to his face and behind his back – that he’s no son of mine if he doesn’t develop a passion for Star Wars.
AE: Do you guys have a favorite song that you all like to sing to or dance to as a family?
TK: At the moment, it’s the Bob The Builder theme tune, which isn’t so much sung as screamed – something particularly delightful on car journeys. Arlo and I also have a dance routine to a song called ‘I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside.’ It involves a lot of stomping and clapping. It’s great – it’s a thing we have that’s just for us.
AE: Describe the perfect family vacation.
TK: We’ve not long come back from the States where we were visiting a friend from university who lives in Pittsburgh. I loved that trip because there was something for everyone.
AE: Talk about a great book you’ve recently read that people need to check out.
TK: Resisting the urge to plug my own books, I’ve just finished reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.
AE: What are three words that you hope your son would use to describe you as a dad?
TK: Grateful. Forgiving. There.