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'Metal Dad': Why being a stay-at-home dad is totally hardcore

June 11, 2014 at 11:40 PM ET

Livingston Reda is one happy baby.
Brian Reda
Rock-a-bye baby: When Brian Reda posted a photo of himself doing the "metal hand" in front of his adorable baby Livingston, he had no idea it would become a sensation on Buzzfeed and Reddit, racking up millions of pageviews and thousands of comments. In an open letter to his son, "metal dad" writes about the experience.

You went viral, little man. You’re an internet star and in the process you brought me along for the ride. The world has officially labeled me as “metal dad” and everyone wants to know how we chose your name, where our jellyfish rug is from, and why I have a dent in my forehead.

I've had a lot of new dads, dads-to-be and even some veteran dads contact me and show great support. They appreciate how metal even the most mundane moments of parenting can be. It's an intense and all-consuming roller coaster, and for a few reasons I think you should know.

How many fingers am I holding up?
Brian Reda
Headbanger in training: A stay-at-home dad, Brian Reda teaches his son how to rock.

You’ve created a lot of tears in these eyes — both happy and sad. I cried when you were born. I cried when you locked eyes with mom for the first time — you were 2 minutes old! I cried when I felt you sink into my chest to nap for the first time. I cried at all those joyous moments you’d expect an admiring father to cry. Totally metal, right?

Brian Reda's son Livingston looks up at his dad from a laundry basket. Rock on!
Brian Reda
There's nothing more metal than being totally responsible for a little one, Brian Reda is discovering. Rock on!

But I also cried when things were tough. The first day your mother went back to work and we were home together, I was a wreck. Actually you were a wreck too. I felt trapped. I felt like I had just sacrificed everything I was to stay home and do this thing. To add to all that you wouldn’t take a bottle from me. So here I was with no income, no child rearing experience, and I couldn’t provide food for my child. We cried together a lot that day, and hard.

Not in the mood to rock.
Brian Reda
Not in the mood to rock.

When your eyes fill with wonder over the simplest things, I can’t help but be as amazed at the world as you are. We were sitting in the park the other day and you were crawling around picking up sticks and trying to eat them. You really love to eat sticks. At one point I looked over and saw you casually pick a dandelion and then take the next several minutes to squeeze it, shake it, taste it, poke it, and generally inspect it. The amazement you have for the most mundane things has given me a new set of eyes with which to view the world.

Hipster-in-training
Brian Reda
Hipster-in-training

I love watching you make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn. Recently I watched you try to pull yourself up on a loose book sitting on the bookshelf. It didn’t work. The book slipped off the shelf and you face planted directly into it. You did your best metal scream for about 10 seconds and I told you to sit up and to calm down and eventually everything was OK. The next day you were back at that same book on the same shelf. I watched as you slowly reached out to pull yourself up. I was nervous. But then the light bulb lit. You stopped, moved to the left, and pulled yourself up on the shelf. A small victory.

Who, me?
Brian Reda
Who, me?

By the time you're able to read this, Livingston, all the hype and publicity of “metal dad” will have receded. Your viral fame will most likely be archived deep in the interwebs. In many ways the relationship that we continue to share will be all but forgotten by others. We, though, will still be father and son. I'll probably still be throwing out the metal hand, whether or not you like it, and I can only hope that as you read this we've become closer than ever.

Til the next letter, rock on! 

Brian and Livingston Reda rock out in Mother Nature.
Brian Reda
Brian and Livingston Reda rock out in Mother Nature.
Livingston celebrates the big 0-1
Brian Reda
Livingston celebrates his six-month birthday (with half a candle)


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