Alvin: Who are you, what do you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?
Mitchell: My name is Mitchell Brown. I am a husband, father and writer, but mostly I am a stay at home dad with my two young daughters who are 4 and 2 years old. To be perfectly accurate, my existence is occupied pretty thoroughly with being a dad – though I do love the husband and writer roles when I get a chance to visit with them.
Nailing down what I love most about what I do is elusive. If I have learned anything since being a father it is selflessness, but there are so many benefits to me as well. I have the unspeakably joyful opportunity to raise my daughters, to teach them about life, but that comes at the cost of my own needs and desires. That has been a challenge but such a great learning experience. It has allowed me to grow more as a person in the last four years than I was capable of in all my thirty three years prior. Being a stay at home parent forces constant reflection on both yourself and how you are raising your children. I can watch my daughters and myself grow minute by minute. I love that.
Alvin: Pick any man in the world who was the most influential to you and why?
Mitchell: This one is a no-brainer for me – my father, Allen Brown. I have read and studied plenty of men who have had great impacts on my life or been sources of inspiration for one reason or another, but no one comes close to Dad. I think most of the things within myself of which I am proudest I can trace back to my father. My whole life I have had a man standing behind me that embodies kindness, affection, service, consideration and honesty. He instilled in me these characteristics much more through action than words, living them everyday unwaveringly. I now believe these things to be the essentials of that which is a good person.
I have always said that if I can be half the father and man that he is then I will have lived a successful life. And, yes, I know how lucky I am to be able to say these things.
Alvin: What do you wish to accomplish 1 year from today?
Mitchell: I can’t wait to see what will have happened in this coming year. As I said, fatherhood for me has been a wonderful chance for growth and I look forward to that continuing very earnestly. I will be a more patient, compassionate and peaceful father and man in one year’s time as I will have had that many more chances to learn about myself and my process.
Beyond that, and less importantly, I look forward to where my writing career will be. I have always been a writer in the sense that I wrote words and attempted to put them into some sort of palatable arrangement. I have always just written them for myself, though. A few months ago I decided to move forward and started a blog, Thoughtful Pop. I wanted to become a better writer and I wanted to just put myself out there and see what happened. The experience has been wonderful and a real education in so many ways. It has also reignited my desire to really pursue writing. So, I will continue to drive forward with Thoughtful Pop as well as finish my first novel, a cookbook and two children’s book series that I have been working on. All right, so now it is in writing…..
Alvin: The road map for raising boys and girls are somewhat different. What’s your philosophy for raising girls and at age eighteen how would you imagine them to be?
Mitchell: Without a strong influence teaching them differently, society has a way of teaching girls that their power and their worth don’t come from within. My wife, who is the ideal example of a powerful person, and I try to instill in our daughters that their value lies in who they are, that they define themselves. The world isn’t set up for a women to succeed as it is for a man (regardless of what your definition of ‘success’ may be), and they have to be prepared to confront that disconnect.
When they are eighteen I imagine them to be strong, compassionate and kind. I imagine them to be proud of the women they will have become, but continually striving to be great people.
Alvin: What has been your largest step to manhood?
Mitchell: My initial reaction to this was the obvious – when I actually became a father. When I thought more about it, though, that moment was really when we found out that we were pregnant and I was going to be a father. That is a watershed moment and it calls you to the table, demanding a response. Aside from some all too human hiccups during the adjustment period, I like to think that I chose then to rise to the moment. To that point in my life I had the luxury of really only attending to my own needs. When that little stick came up blue there was a very heavy realization that the game had changed and I think I changed with it pretty well.
What I am most proud of, though, is that each subsequent step along my path to manhood has been equal in size – that was just the first one. That doesn’t make me special by any stretch of the imagination, but it makes me proud of the path I have taken and continue to take.
Alvin: What has been the best advice you received about being a man?
Mitchell: “Leave the world a better place than you found it.” I think this, of course, applies to all people, but typifies two of the most valuable qualities of being a good man – responsibility and respect.