About

I live in Daddyland.

Yes, this is a state of mind. But it is also a real place, otherwise known as Sweden. And over 18 months of paid paternity leave between 2008 and 2010, I both transcended a dying industrial-era masculinity and mastered the Tao of the sandbox.

I’m back at work now, but in many ways, I’ll never leave Daddyland

*************

It started about six years ago when my wife, then one-year-old daughter and I fled a gritty small city in the New York City exurbs, crushed under the weight of social isolation, career cul de sacs and a drafty old house filled with lead paint, dead rats and lots and lots of bats. It was gentrification gone horribly wrong, literally at the end of the train line in a place where no one takes the train.

We fled to Sweden, where my wife is from, landing in a 450-square-foot apartment with another baby soon on the way. After a mere six months at my new job, I ventured into Daddyland.

This is not an exotic trip to take here in Stockholm, where ever-growing packs of dudes push strollers down the street every day.  And my journey began with the basics, like mastering the snack and diaper bag. But eventually, it led me into a confusing swamp of feminism, guy culture, “child-centered” masculinity and how I want to raise my son.

But here’s the cool part, at least for a professional guy: Daddyland is not forever. I’m back at work, more creative, more successful and with a more confident work/life balance. Caring for toddlers turned out to be a career – and life – saver not a career killer.

No one knows what a transformed masculinity will look like. For me it was going from corporate in the office to grunge in the sandbox. It was about introducing my daughter daily to Prince and The White Stripes, along with nursery rhymes. It was about not owning a car, about running in barefoot shoes and about reading a stream of books about ancient myths and modern innovation. For other guys, it could be anything.

I want to show that men, in fact, can change and still be “men,” whatever that means to us in this moment in history. I still like sports, rock and roll and shots of whiskey. I’m still ambitious and competitive. I want to show that the shifts brought on by globalization and the digital age do not have to be existential threats. We have reached the frontier of masculinity, and there is nowhere left to explore but the nursery, the most “other” room of them all.

—————————————–

I am a writer, journalist and communications consultant living in Stockholm, Sweden with my wife and two small children.  I graduated from Swarthmore College and from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and also spent three years in rural war-torn Croatian towns working first in grassroots peace projects then for an American non-profit.

I currently contribute regularly to Quartz and The Morning News, and my writing and photography have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Slate, Salon, the Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor and lonelyplanet.com, among other places.  I also spent five years as a reporter and editor at the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, New York covering the expanding edge of the New York City exurbs.

20 thoughts on “About

  1. Great blog!
    I’m still on cloud nine over a week after the election. The thing you wrote about Nora’s first memory of a president being Obama was something I thought about as well.
    I think Americans would be interested in reading more about life without a car!
    Your fellow ex-pat,
    Kenji

  2. Vilken bra blogg! Jag har lagt in mig som preumerant, ser fram emot att läsa mer!
    Kram
    Nanna

  3. Nate – Great blog. It has been great getting to know you in the writers group and I only wish we had more time to hang out. Your life in the exurbs in NY about describes our life in Stavsnäs, at the end of the bus line.

    John

  4. Hi from a fellow blogging american recently transplanted to Sweden. Found your blog from the expat blog page. We also have one kid and one on the way…you’ll have your #2 before we do so I’ll be waiting on your verdict of is second baby easier or harder than #1!

  5. Hi Nathan,
    I discovered your blog recently while doing research for an upcoming month long house swap trip to Sweden I’ll be doing with my partner and our 3 year old son beginning June 16th. We live in Portland, Oregon but have friends in Stockholm and will be swapping houses with them. They live in the “suburb” of Olovlund. We are obviously not familiar with the area and won’t know any young kids while we are there – but if you live in that area we would be glad to meet you and your 3 year old (and baby) at a park sometime.
    Also – can you recommend a cell phone system that we can use while we are there for that month that will work throughout Europe. We would like one that my partner and I could use just to communicate with each other when we happen to be separated. Thanks for any advice you might be able to give. I was thinking it would just be a pre-paid cell phone with a certain amount of minutes on it.
    Keep up the blog. It gets read.

    Scott

  6. hej there!
    nice blog. very personal and warm..
    i’m also writing a blog about places to go for coffee around stockholm. i hope you like it!
    oh, can i link to your blog?
    thanks…
    diego
    http://www.newstockholm.blogspot.com

  7. Great blogg! So exited to find more American-Swedish blogs!🙂

  8. Yes yes! You are a Bills fan. Yay! We should watch some games this year.

  9. You studied in Swarthmore? How did you like it? I took a term off my University education to work on Ted Nelson’s Project Xanadu, in Swarthmore. It is my only experience of living in the USA.

    You must be sharing my amusement at the American alarm over the “death panels” health care reform will bring.

  10. I have a love-hate relationship with Swarthmore, which I am trying to steer more towards the love side. A very intense and slightly isolated place, which was perfect for me in some ways, and not so good in others. And yes, as far as death panels go, I cannot even begin to take all that crap seriously.

  11. It must be different going out of the U.S. I don’t know what I’d do in another country. Love the blog:) Saw your blog and figured it was an interesting read! Check Mine Out.

  12. Hey man,
    South-Carolinian here, also living in Daddyland, Stockholm. Let’s grab a fika sometime.

  13. Hej! Just wanted to let you know the feedburner link is not working properly.

  14. Hi Nathan,

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your insightful blog. Please keep it going!

    Fiona

  15. Hi nathan

    I am a producer with the Australian version of 60 Minutes and I came across your blog while researching a story on maternity and paternity leave.
    Australia is about to join almost the rest of the world and have a paid maternity leave scheme and our opposition party is even proposing a scheme where fathers could take leave too – which is a huge improvement.
    I am looking at doing a story about this and came across Sweden and it’s pretty forward policies and in doing so came across you.
    I was wondering if you might know of any Aussies living over there – fathers also on paternity leave.
    Was also wondering if you might consider taking part in our story – if I get the final go ahead.

    At this stage just researching it.

    Cheers

    Julia Timms

  16. Nathan –

    I just read your article about watching football and having children on Salon. Very good.
    I am a graduate of Brandeis and the Columbia Journalism School 1965 and 1966 – so I’m quite a bit older. I was a sports fan growing up in NY, and remember watching late Saturday p.m. shows (in black and white) reporting football scores from across the country. learned the names of the colleges and their nicknames. We (kids) played two-hand touch on a field across the street from our neighborhood, and on a narrow, little used street- we stopped when anybody yelled “car coming.”

    When I read and then watched the move “North Dallas 40” that was enough foootball for me. I’ve since grown even more critical of it, as played in college and in the pros – as time goes on- really excessive in many ways- destroys people bodies- as you discovered – soaks up way too many resources in colleges that are scraping along – there are a couple of books by Bowen and Shulman, then Bowen and another co-author, about college athletics, how college athletes fit – or do not fit into the college community. The authors are economists, and there are lots of charts and tables, but very good books.
    I live in Oakland. I watch a lot of Cal basketball games, I’ve gone to Cal soccer games, men and women, Cal track meets, Pac-10 track meets- but college football and pro football is just too much- and, as is becoming apparent, corrupt.

    I have a son who is very into sports- he is now 20, at Univ of Oregon. He played soccer, basketball, baseball, water polo. he still likes football and plays flag football, intromaurals, but he knows how I feel about it.

  17. Also living in Sweden while on my Canadian paternity leave. Thanks for your entries and insight.

  18. Dear Nathan,

    My name is Joyce and I work for ExpatFinder.com.
    ExpatFinder.com is a free one stop website for people preparing to move or working and living overseas. We provide a myriad of services for expatriates and we have over 2,000 articles to help and support the people moving around the world and we are now creating an interview section to help the expats with real life experiences!
    We quite enjoy your blog about living in Sweden, it is very interesting and informative. Would it be possible to interview you to further share some of your tips and feature some of your first hand experience as an Expat and your interview will be published on our Expat Interview section as a guide for our expat readers. The questions are mainly about the day to day lifestyle of an expat. If it would be possible, could you also send some photographs that we can use?
    Of course, if you accept, we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.
    The questions are enclosed, feel free to respond freely. You can return the doc with your answers if you accept this invitation.
    Thanks in advance and do let me know if you prefer other means to conduct this interview and we would be happy to accommodate your terms.

    Best regards,
    Joyce

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