Salon Goes All Wiki on Me (a Daddy Dilemma Exposed!)

April 19th, 2006 by Larry Smith

Welcome anyone who heard me on WHYY, a Philly public radio station close to my heart as I grew up listening to it, and the host mentioned SMITH magazine a few glorious times. That’s brotherly love from Marty Moss-Coane, baby!

We were talking about Salon’s Maybe Baby book, and the essay I wrote about my own daddy dilemma. The essay, excerpted on Salon, catapulted me into my own up close and personal taste of participatory journalism. See, Salon lets anyone publish a letter. It’s a, well, baby step version of the well-documented disaster that was the wikitorial experiment at the L.A. Times. After the story ran along with an interview my editor did with my girl and I, the letters poured in.. For example…

jeez, what a wimp
maybe intellectuals shouldnt have kids if they are going to overthink everything, the longer she holds off, the harder and more expensive its might be to have a baby.

And got better and better.

he needs to:

1 dump the woman and find his 27 year old or

2 become a known/open sperm donor that way he can have children and be a part of their life but without having sexual/emotional contact with another woman

i dont know if he should have kids or not, but he definitely needs a backbone.

Not everyone called me a loser, nor did everyone suggest Piper freeze her eggs (just one helpful soul), and I rather enjoyed the experience. Some thoughtful notes even pushed their way through the muck (though ironically the writer says that her comment “doesn’t really fit into the discussion.”

Well, I remember being 36 and feeling like a combination of the writer and his girlfriend. I was 50% for having kids. We had been privileged DINKS for a long time and it was scary. We took the plunge (I actually can’t remember now what the deciding factor was), had two beautiful children, and never looked back.

Yes, everything changes, yes, all hell breaks loose, yes, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. For me personally, two big things happened. 1) I matured into an adult. 2) I started having more fun than I’d ever had before in my pretty-damn-good life up to that point. When I thought of having children, I only imagined the drudgery, of which there is plenty. I was astounded–totally surprised–at the pure joy and great fun brought into my life by having kids in the house. They are now 13 and 16, and still give me lovely joy and fun every day, along with the required dose of teenaged angst.

Smarmy as its sounds, it is a humbling privilege to welcome another being into your heart and home and to do everything you know how to do (with plenty of mistakes and grief along the way) to help that being grow and learn.

This letter doesn’t really fit into the discussion, but I related so much to the writer’s dilemma and his girlfriend’s doubts at 36 that I wanted to comment.

Bonus: a blog for new dads, placenta recipes and all.

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