My son, affectionately and respectfully known as Young Master Oliver, (said with an accent similar to Alfred, young Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler and mentor) was born almost four years ago.
In the years and months leading up to his birth I was one of those people who swore he would never plaster my Facebook account with photos of my kids.
Then, no sooner than he was born I was, yep, plastering my Facebook with photos of my gorgeous child. At first it was as simple as sharing the images with friends and family who were too far away to see him in person. It was efficient. I was also jubilant in my pride.
My son beats my heart.
As time went on posting about our day became a sort of public document of our adventures as father and son. I loved the idea of letting friends and family members come along as we played with our Lincoln Logs and in our sandbox and on our trips to the zoo, museum, and anywhere else life took us.
So too did I want to share my experiences as a father.
I began using my Instagram less for my music and songwriting endeavors and more for sharing these father and son moments. I began using hashtags like “FaceOfFatherhood,” “DadLife,” and “FatherandSon.”
In doing so things took on a slightly different tone.
It was no longer just about sharing life with immediate friends and family. Rather, it became a very public display of parenthood.
It became important for me to show anyone who cared to notice what fatherhood looked like for me. In a world where mothers are viewed as the primary parent shuttling kids to and from grocery stores, museums, pharmacies, doctors’ visits, and everything in between, I felt it essential to show that there is more to being a dad than lawn care, lazy Sundays drinking beer on the sofa, and bumbling around the house waiting for mom to save the day. This image that permeates sitcoms, animated shows, and film, I believe, is a huge disservice and an affront to engaged, competent fathers and the very notion of gender equality.
In my family I was the one with the BabyBjörn doing the groceries, vacuuming, laundry, getting my steps in at the zoo, and juggling a career while getting a master’s degree, and running a household all with a toddler on my hip or top of head.
In taking such a public approach to parenting I found myself interacting with an entire community of likeminded dads and supportive moms who were also using social media to model healthy and enthusiastic parenting. Sometimes we shared smiles and laughter and other times frustration and tears because as most engaged parents know, for every one of the former there is at least one of the latter.
But as time has moved forward things have changed a bit. My phone stays in my pocket (or even in the next room) more than it used to. I find myself more dialed into what’s happening and enjoying my life and family from the inside rather than observing it all from than from the outside. I feel more inclined to fully experience and enjoy every moment than I am in documenting them.
I’ve also been writing less frequently in my personal journal and I’ve been wondering why this has been happening but I think I know why. I’m not spending as much time documenting my life. I’m not spending as much time writing about what kind of life I want. I’m actually living that life.
Don’t get me wrong, I still snap photos and quick videos when the moment calls, I still pull out my journal but it’s most definitely not as big a part of my day-to-day. It’s hard to take time out of my life when I’m enjoying every moment of it.
I certainly don’t begrudge anyone for filling my feed with their family photos because I truly enjoy it. I love seeing my friends share their kids’ graduation, prom, birthday, and anything else moments.
And rest assured, once the summer gets into full swing and we get back from the First Annual Benninghoff-Becerra Family Vacation: Cruise Edition there will be more than enough photos to go around.
These days though, I’ve been so truly content to just live in the moment and enjoy our adventures as a family. I’m hardly living a life of isolation but there has certainly been less emphasis on sharing for the sake of any larger motivation.
Documenting every single giggle and groan just doesn’t seem as essential these days.
Enjoying them in the most intimate way possible does.
Be Well and Kind,