Dad

Today I talked with the belly as I do every day, but for the first time I started with “hi there, this is daddy speaking” instead of “mummy”. It’s the first time it felt right to introduce myself as daddy and not mummy and of cause my wife reacted instantly and made a remark. We have talked a lot about what I want to be called when the baby arrives and I must admit that nothing feels quite right. I’m not a mother, but father or dad? I’m not sure.
I have a few fond memories of my dad, a few moments during my childhood when he was a really awesome parent. I treasure these memories very much since, unfortunately, that part of his personality has deceased some time ago (his own words). The part that is left is a religious, egoistic prick that can’t even pretend to be nice to anyone. Not to his wife, and not to his only child. I’ve somewhat come to peace with this and have no contact with him today, but I’m open to renewing our contact if it’s preceded with a simple apology. I have no desire to deny him a relation with our child, but he must be able to be reasonably nice to her!
The process of choosing a pronoun/gendered noun is tainted by my crappy relation with my father. The word “dad” holds too many negative associations, too many bad memories of my own dad. So many that it feels utterly wrong to be referred to as “dad”, because I’m not like him and I don’t wish to be. Thinking of one day being called “grandfather”, on the other hand, makes me feel really proud and happy. I would much prefer to be called “grandfather” than “grandmother” even though I had a really good relationship with both my grandmother and grandfather. I’m just NOT a grandmother.
“He” is also a tricky word for me, not just because of my father but also because of all insecure manly men I’ve encountered in my life. Again – I’m not like them, and I don’t wish to be. Being referred to as “he” makes me feel like I’m expected to be like them. I try to refocus on all the nice, good men I’ve met in my life – for example my grandfather- in order to reclaim the word. These men are proof that being “he” doesn’t automatically incline you to behave like a caveman. I’m not really there yet though, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to reclaim “dad”.
The interesting thing is that my connotations for “dad” is closely linked to the word, and not the meaning of the word. All my negative connotations are linked to the Swedish word for dad – not the English one. This means that it’s much easier for me to imagine being called the English “dad” than the Swedish one. Unfortunately, the English “dad” doesn’t work very well in Swedish, but there’s a lot of other languages in the world… For example Bosnian where they say “tata” for dad. It just so happens that “tata” works fairly well in Swedish and we have decided to try it on for a while to see if it works for us.
What do you call yourselves? I know a lot of you uses “he” or “they” as pronoun, but then what? What do you call yourselves in relation to other family members?

4 thoughts on “Dad

  1. Donna referes to me as “she” but she also calls me her little prince (with some irony), and does accidentally shift into “they” speak sometimes.
    If I had a child I would definitely want some kind of Papa word – like Abba in Hebrew. I think of myself as Donna’s partner and Gracie’s master – with masculine inflection.

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    • It’s hard to find the right word in swedish since most of them are gendered. We have no eqivalent word for spouse, for instance. I can’t call myself my wifes partner. We are married, not in a partnership. Both these exist in Sweden – and it’s not the same thing, so it feels neccesary to mark rhe difference.

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  2. We have had four-legged children and have one left, who is no less a child to me than a human. We overcame the daddy / papa / tata issue with a warped version of the Italian ‘babbo.’ B thinks it hilarious referring to me like that when she speaks about me to Pooch, as it sounds a bit like ‘baboon!’ (Yeah, I know, we are weird, but it makes life more palatable.)

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