The Reluctant Father’s Poignant Photo Journey

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Phillip Toledano has no dreams of being a dad and was afraid of what this would mean in his life. He started this photo project as a way of dealing with his fear and it captures his growing love for his daughter Lulu perfectly.

You have a girlfriend, and everyone asks “So when are you two getting married?’ You get married. You’re married, and everyone asks ‘So when are you two going to have children?’ You have a child. You have a child, and everyone asks, ‘So when are you having the next one?’

the_reluctant_fathers_poignant_photo_journey

When Loulou was born, I was in the delivery room watching the whole thing. Was I overwhelmed in a tsunami of love? Not really.

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To future fathers: When you’re asked how you like being a new dad, follow this script to the letter.

Q: So, how do you like being a father? Do you love it? When I told people I didn’t like it very much, their faces would wrinkle like a walnut.

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And then there was my wife, Carla. When Loulou was born, she vanished.

the_reluctant_fathers_poignant_photo_journey

I missed her and me, together.

the_reluctant_fathers_poignant_photo_journey

I had been downsized. Meet my replacement: The alien

the_reluctant_fathers_poignant_photo_journey

Take me to your leader

the_reluctant_fathers_poignant_photo_journey

Also, sleep is cancelled for the next three years.

the_reluctant_fathers_poignant_photo_journey

Everything Loulou did was utterly incomprehesible. It was like watching a wildlife documentary.

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The first time I heard Loulou sneeze, I was so happy. Something human, that I could relate to!

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Even our dog had no interest in loulou.

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Does she need milk? Has she crapped her pants? Is she too hot? Too cold? Handling a baby was like working with highly unstable explosives.

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I made plates.
I thought this was high comedy, but Carla was not amused.

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Almost worse than the screaming, was the anticipation. Especially when you’re lying in bed, at 2am.

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Let’s not forget the baby industrial complex. A baby wipe warmer? Don’t forget the baby-bottle sterilizer.

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I understood that babies like bright colors. Or at least, toy companies think they do.

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When she turns 20, I’ll be 60. Would I seem like an old man to her? Confused by what she wears, how she talks? Would she roll her eyes, and say ‘oh dad…’ Or would we be friends? Drinking cups of tea in the kitchen, talking about the latest boyfriend?

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Both of my parents died in the last four years. In fact, my father died four months before loulou was born. There are so many things I wish I could ask my mother.

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It’s sad, but I realize as I get older that all cliches are true. I do something I said I’d NEVER do: Baby photos. It’s really quite embarassing. When I meet other parents, I lunge for the iphone. I can’t WAIT to bore people. ‘Look, I know you don’t like baby pictures, but Loulou is different!’

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I look back at all these photographs, and see how they reveal my slow and inevitable metamorphosis. From detached observer, to eager participant. From photographer, to father.

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Humor is how I connect with the world. It’s my language. So when loulou began to speak that language to me, it was pretty extraordinary. The first time I teased her, and she teased me back, I cried.

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There is such a sense of love in these pictures that wasn’t there before.

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I want to end with an apology to Carla. Also, I want to apologize to loulou. One day, she’ll see these photographs, and read these words. I want her to know that even though I found the begining of her life quite bewildering, I’m so glad she’s here now. I love you very much, loulou.

the_reluctant_fathers_poignant_photo_journey

the_reluctant_fathers_poignant_photo_journey