As a mother to only boys and having only my own experience as a daughter to draw on, I treasured the opportunity to hear all the speakers approaching their topics through the lens of fatherhood. Brene Brown, in particular, hit so many marks in her talk about vulnerability that had everyone in the room nodding along and seeing how the world conspires to make women think they want their male partners to be vulnerable, while at the same time secretly loathing any sign of weakness they may display—which, she pointed out, men are perfectly aware of! So they learn to lie and only share the "acceptable" sorts of vulnerabilities that they think their wives can handle. It was so good to hear her say (not quoting her here, this is what I took away personally) that we all want (and need) the same thing—to have a partner that we can share our fears and weaknesses with that will listen and console, but won't try and fix everything. I wish I had a recording of the talk, it truly was amazing and so full of moments that I wish I could quote perfectly. I guess I'll just have to buy the book and then fill it full of tabbed stickers to refer back to in the future. To whet your appetite, here are a few of the quotes that particularly resonated with me (all quotes pulled from twitter, so accuracy is questionable, to say the least).
"How many times have you walked away from your partner with a huge story in your mind about what just happened that may or may not have anything to do with the truth?"
Brene Brown's advice on "therapy speak" to employ with your partner: Start the conversation with "The story I'm making up right now is...[insert why you think something is bothering you or the other person]."
"The greatest act of vulnerability is parenting."
"To be human is to be vulnerable...to be the partner and parent you want to be...you need to be vulnerable."
"It's not joy that makes us grateful, it's gratitude that makes us joyful." on practicing gratitude with your family.
"You can't raise whole-hearted kids without talking about vulnerability. Or gender conformity, or privilege, or race."
"I used to talk about 'What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?' Now I say 'What's worth doing even if you fail?'"
"Tell your kids a story about when you were struggling at the same age. It will change their lives."
If you haven't ever watched Brene Brown speak, her legendary TEDtalk is a great place to start.
This advice from the pros will hopefully help me open back up and enjoy writing again like I used to: Start journaling to get out the emotion and the things that you really want to say. Use that journal as fertilizer (the shit, basically) to get you to the mental space to write the things you can post. The final product can allow you to look back on the emotion with the perspective that (hopefully) you've gained since resolving it, making it not just a venting, but a story with resolution.
I also loved Black Hockey Jesus' exhortation to embrace fantasy in our writing and stop being so goddamed literal. (The wording is mine, the message is his.) Sarcasm very firmly set aside—that man is a poet. I think many in attendance would agree that Jon's writing is so painfully good that it makes one feel sad for their own lack of talent when they read it. Or maybe it's just me and that other person I was talking to who worded it in such a perfect way, but I don't think so...
So, when all was said and done... as a stay-at-home-mother and wife in what I would consider a pretty "traditional" American home (for an almost unseemly amount of years, I might add), my perspective can often get contaminated by the "stories I make up" about why my husband does this or says that. Dad 2.0 set the story straight by allowing me to hear personal stories from real, modern men about how their lives as fathers affects everything they do. It doesn't seem like that big of a revelation, but in our culture that seems almost incapable of showing fatherhood as co-parenting, instead of bumbling ineptitude, it was fantastic to see a bunch of guys who are all just doing their best to love and do right by their kids and families—and saying, "Hey, isn't it about time we got some props for that?"
On top of the thought-provoking speeches, emotional post readings, and a general feeling of "Holy shit, these guys are some of the most thoughtful, coolest, and greatest dads ever." —while NEVER being self-congratulatory about it, I might add—the conference brought together a handful of blogging karaoke die-hards.
You may have seen something in the news about a supernova exploding in the Houston area over the weekend. Rest easy, it was just Chris Read exploding onto the stage at Spotlight Karaoke with a graceful, yet slightly menacing, swing around a karaoke stage stripper pole. Un-fucking-believable. Watch the video below for two nights' worth of highlights...
I want to put about forty links in to all the great people I got to meet and spend time with and the friends I had a chance to reconnect with, too— but a short list is going to have to do: Faiqa, Kristen, Father Muskrat, Andy, Kevin, Jason, Jim, Momo, Polly, Whit, Charlie, Isabel, Liz, Adam, and a special thanks to my pregnant roomie, Jill @babyrabies, for being my designated driver and voice of reason.