The Uncomfortable Truths Of Fatherhood

Quinn Lewis, daughter of author Michael Lewis
Lewis's daughter Quinn, now 10.
Courtesy of Tabitha Soren
Now that the Father's Day cards have been opened and the new ties unwrapped, it's time to acknowledge some paternal truths.

At least, that's what noted financial writer and three-time dad Michael Lewis believes. He sat down for a Father's Day interview CBS News business correspondent Anthony Mason.

Not long after he became a parent, Lewis says he realized he was participating in "an extended cover up."

Lewis: I discovered four or five months after becoming a father that I was already lying to other people about it, and that bothered me that I was already whitewashing the situation. So I started to keep this journal.

That journal is now a book, "Home Game: An Accidental Guide To Fatherhood."

Mason: Were you ever surprised at some of the feelings you put down?

Lewis: Yes. .. I was surprised more generally by how inappropriate so much of what I felt was.

It's an amusing, unsweetened look at being a dad. Lewis says his own father wasn't much help as a role model.

Lewis: I remember most vividly was when I was struggling with an infant. And he looked at me and he had this expression on his face, that's like… I couldn't quite figure out if he was thinking, 'Oh you poor sucker.' Whatever it was, ... I looked at him and he said, "I didn't talk to you until you were 21 years old."

Mason: Have you ever said to yourself, "I want my dad's deal?"

Lewis: Oh yeah. Oh my God, have I ever said it to myself? That was the war inside myself when our first child was born. I mean, I knew it was socially unacceptable to want my dad's deal. I knew that's not something that you would ever say, uh, and certainly not in the presence of your wife.

Mason: You even confessed to the odd murderous impulse?

Lewis: I was standing on a balcony - at six weeks after my first child was born.

As his daughter Quinn screamed in his arms, Lewis says he considered what he'd do "if it wasn't against the law to hurl her off."

Lewis: Now it wasn't a very high balcony. So I'm not sure it was an actually murderous thought. But it was nevertheless a taboo thought and I was aware it was a taboo thought.

It was not love at first sight with his children, Quinn, Dixie and Walker, who are now 10, 7 and 2. Lewis writes: "It's only in caring for a thing that you become attached to it." Like when his infant son was rushed to the hospital...

Lewis: He got very sick. He got RSV, he couldn't breathe and I got a call from Tabitha, my wife.

(Lewis' wife, Tabitha Soren, is a professional photographer. She took the pictures of the couple's children included in this story.)

Lewis stayed with him for days.

Lewis: It was incredibly moving. You could see that even though he was just a few months old and he was suffering, there was a kind of bravery about how he was … kind of, he was chipper. He was trying to be chipper. And it and for the first time I developed real feelings for him, in this kind of crisis situation.

Mason: I've had this feeling for years that my father was a lot like your father, not particularly involved. And I would always say to myself in moments that I though I wasn't doing particularly well, 'Well I'm doing better than he did."

Lewis: You're grading on a curve. Well that's kind of how I do it too. You can always find somebody who is doing it worse. We have going for us the fact that we stand on the shoulders of midgets. … They were wonderful for their time, but for our time, they totally flunk. And so it's the one area, changing a poo-swim diaper, is something I know I do better than my father. I mean, I can say that. And I can be proud of that.

Watch an extended version of Mason's interview with author Michael Lewis:

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