Clint Edwards wrote This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, a really funny, honest and insightful memoir about fatherhood. As one reviewer said, “It will make you laugh. It will make you think. It will make you cry. Sometimes all three at the same time.”
Clint is a great writer and I think all of us will see ourselves in some aspect of this book. Clint was nice enough to answer a few questions about his book and the advice he has for working dads.
Your book is really funny, can you share one funny story from This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things?
Sure! Here is a list of stupid questions I received after having my third child and how I’d like to respond… If I wasn’t such a nice guy.
– “Does the baby cry much?” Really? It’s a baby. Yes. She cries. All the time she cries. She cries when she’s hungry. She cries when she isn’t hungry. She cries because she doesn’t have the strength and coordination to lift her head off the floor. Most of the time, I don’t understand why she cries. Sometimes, I cry.
– “Are you making sure to help your wife?” You know what, it’s the craziest thing. Now that she’s had the baby, I just don’t care about her anymore. Her job is done. Why treat her like something of value? She had a 7lb baby ripped from a gaping wound in her stomach (C-section), and ever since she’s been home from the hospital, I’ve been having her spend long hours in the kitchen making me sandwiches.
– “Do you think this will be your last kid?” Don’t ask me a question like that. Look at my bloodshot eyes. I’m in the throes of hell right now. Your question is like asking me two weeks after getting food poisoning when I plan to eat at Taco Bell again. Ask me that question in a year.
What I like best about your book is how honest you are in describing the good, the bad, the ugly of fatherhood. In the book, you discuss mistakes you’ve made and tough times your family has had. How does your wife and the other people in your life feel about this honesty?
Mel, my wife, reads everything I write. We essentially have a review process. Everything I publish has to meet Mel’s approval. We’ve been married for 11 years now, and I’ve always been a confessional person, so the transition to writing about our family wasn’t all that jarring for her.
However, I must admit, though, she did have a difficult time when Good Morning America came to our house. I had an essay titled “I Used To Blame My Wife For Our Messy House, I Was Wrong For Many Reasons” on the Washington Post go viral and suddenly we were on national television. Mel is very outspoken with me, but outside of our home she is reserved and even shy, so having a camera man wandering around our house didn’t sit too well. I have promised that I’ll never ask her to be on national television again. Luckily that hasn’t been a problem.
As far as the kids, it’s basically become part of their lives. Sometimes my oldest snarkingly says things like, “Gosh Dad… are you going to write about this on your blog?” But other than that, they don’t pay it much attention. I really do hope, though, that once my children get older that they can read my book/blog and realize that I didn’t have all the answers, I was trying very hard, and that I do, indeed, love them very much.
In your family, both you and your wife took turns as primary providers and primary caregivers. Can you discuss this challenge and how you ultimately made it work?
Hmmm… made it work. I don’t know if that’s the term I would use. I would just say that it worked out. My first year out of college I took a summer off while Mel worked full time at an internship. This is the first chapter in This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. We didn’t really go into it with a plan or anything. Mel went to work each day, and I stayed home. I went into it with the cliché assumption that taking care of the kids couldn’t be all that difficult. I’d just finished a graduate degree. I could do anything… right? Ha!
Honestly, and truly, it was a lot of work and frustration sprinkled with some of the best moments I’d ever had with my children up to that point. I learned so much about Tristan and Norah (our two children at the time, we have three children now) that summer and what it takes to manage a home. I started to understand why Mel used to meet me at the door with a child in tow asking for help. And I think Mel started to understand what it means to feel a sense of separation from her children that comes when you work out of the home. Ultimately, it was a great learning experience for both of us.
I think it is important that you shared your fatherhood story in all its funny and absurd moments- the more dads share this stuff in a relatable way, the more we realize that their challenges are shared by others- making us more likely to help each other and seek help. What do you hope fellow dads get out of reading this book?
That is such a tough question. My father wasn’t around much when I was young. This book is, ultimately, me coming of age as a father. I’ve learned a lot through trial and error (mostly error) about what it means to be a father.
I suppose what I want readers to realize it that parenting and marriage is the most frustrating and rewarding thing I have ever done. There are no clear-cut answers, but rather a million changing variables that never fully line up. It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to get frustrated. But it’s not okay if you don’t listen to your children and your partner. To be a good father and husband you have to be willing to humble yourself and change, because your family is changing. Every day they present new rewards and challenges, and if you don’t change and learn with them, it will never work.
Any hard-won advice for fellow working dads?
Ha! Love your kids. Love your wife. Remember that you are a father and husband first, and all other things second. If you get your priorities in line, it will all work out. You might swear along the way. But it will all work out.
What do you think about This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things and the funny side of fatherhood? Let’s discuss in the comments.
Like the article? Think it would make for a good facebook, reddit or twitter conversation? Then please share it using the buttons below. You can also follow the blog via email, facebook or twitter. And, of course, remember to buy my book. Thanks!
Clint Edwards is the author of the humorous and insightful No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog. His work has been featured on Good Morning America, and he is a parenting contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Today Parents, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. In 2015 The Huffington Post listed him as one of 10 Must-Read Bloggers For New (And Experienced) Dads.