As writer and stay-at-home dad Brian Gresko sees it, narratives about fatherhood are slowly but surely becoming more present in overall conversations about parenthood. He notes that programs like NBC’s Today have honed in on dads by rebranding long-running segments like Today Moms into Today Parents (with an extra nod to Modern Dads). And online, Gresko says, “There’s definitely a growing trajectory of men writing honestly and openly about parenting” as a counterbalance to the well-established mommy-blogosphere.
Still, Gresko notes that while “there are also the so-called momoirs,” that genre doesn’t quite exist yet for dads. His new anthology, When I First Held You, compiles 22 essays on fatherhood from a host of distinguished contemporary attempts to showcase the wide range of experiences that men have as they grapple with being called “Dad.” I spoke with Gresko about the changing nature of fatherhood and visibility inside and outside of the home.
When did you become a stay-at-home dad and why was that the best decision for your family at the time?
My decision to be a writer and to be a dad all came kind of at the same time for me, or out of the same catalyst. At the time, my then-girlfriend was nearing 30 and wanted to have a family. That was a stumbling block in our relationship, and I took a year to get some space, and teach, and write in China. While I was there, I not only fell into a more regular practice of writing, but I also decided that I did, indeed, want to get married and start a family. When I came back home, I enrolled in an MFA program at The New School, my wife and I got married, and she became pregnant.