Our 256th Dad in the Limelight is writer and educator James M. Chesbro. I want to thank James for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.
1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)
I’m James M. Chesbro. I write and teach. Right now I’m working on finishing an interlinked collection of essays titled, A Lion in the Snow . These family portraits reflect on the threads that bind me to my father and inform my own roles. In sketches tempered by loss and fueled by hope, in moments of both chaos and quiet, in ruminations born out of recent memory and my youth, I explore what it means for a man to love those in his family. I’ve been able to find homes for some of my pieces, including Connecticut Review , Central Park West and The Huffington Post
I have a full-time position teaching high school English, and I teach one course a semester as an adjunct professor. I also volunteer as an editorial assistant for Welcome Table Press
, which publishes and celebrates the essay in all its forms.
2) Tell me about your family
My wife, Lynne, and I have been married for six years. We have three children: James is 4, Mary 2, and Clare is eight-months old.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
Finding reserves of patience for my young children and energy to write after they go to bed, or finding energy the next day after a disrupted night and an early morning (usually both). Patience and energy. No other father has responded that way for this question, right, Christopher?
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
Even though it’s work, to labor with my material and actually have a solid block of time to write makes me a happier person. It’s really non-stop action in our house and it’s important to be able to step away to do what you’re passionate about. My best fathering moments are the calm ones, when I’ve returned from a run, or a therapeutic massage. Everyone needs to find sources of renewal, but especially parents of young children. Obviously this is true for the children’s mother as well! I win many points when I ask her what she needs; what can we do for her to re-charge. On Sunday I go to church by myself.
5) Seeing that you (or your position) are in the limelight, how have you come to balance parenthood and outside life? If you are currently not in the limelight per se, please still answer this in regards to how you balance parenthood and outside life.
As an emerging writer, it’s not as much the glow of limelight as it is lamplight in my office on campus—where it is quiet. I do work at night sometimes, but I’m most productive during the day. I try not to bring work home. I try to keep my phone out of my pocket and be as present as I can to my wife and kids once I’ve walked through the door.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
I’ve learned the most from reading the literary nonfiction of fathers who are great writers. Particularly, the books: Hunting for Hope: A Father’s Journeys by Scott Russell Sanders, Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York by Adam Gopnik, and Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son by Michael Chabon. I also recommend The Book of Dads, edited by Ben George.
7) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
James’s first steps to Lynne in the kitchen. Holding Lynne as she gave birth to Clare in our bedroom during an unplanned home-birth (the other children slept through the entire labor), and watching Mary fall in love with Clare when she first met her. I remain in awe of their sisterly bond. Beyond any other particular moments, my wife and I love learning their temperaments—how they are different from one another—or rather, how they are themselves.
If you have any questions for James, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!
Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!
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