Winging It, with Jonathan Kaplan – a road to fatherhood {Book Review}

Mother’s day has just come and gone, and pretty soon we start planning for Father’s day! Something that struck a chord with me over Mother’s day weekend, was the amount of empathy and sharing on social media:

  • For moms who have miscarried
  • For moms who have lost kids
  • For women who yearn to have kids

To see that type of support I thought was quite sweet. With Father’s day now approaching, I wonder, will the same sort of empathy and posts be shared for the father who has lost a child? Whose wife has miscarried? The man who yearns for children? What about a man who has no wife, but yearns for children….the single man? With a gay man, I reckon he has a partner and they adopt. BUT what about the man with no partner, male or female, who desperately wants to be a father?

When Pan Macmillian asked me if I’d like to review this book, Winging It, about Jonathan Kaplan’s ‘ journey from World-Class Ref to Rookie Solo Dad ‘, I will admit, I was immediately intrigued! Okay, I had NO IDEA who Jonathan Kaplan was, but the wheels in my head were turning. A man, having a child alone? Would he wake up for the baby every night? Would he consider the use of cloth diapers over disposables? This child….would this child have a mother figure….would this child NEED a mother figure?? The minute I received the book…I jumped in!

Winging It…By Joanne Jowell

Jonathan Kaplan, celebrated international rugby referee and former world record-holder for most Test caps, had his fair share of challenging moments on the field. He was known for his commitment to fair play, ability to defuse tense situations, and courage in making difficult, and sometimes controversial, decisions. All this would stand JK in good stead and come back into play when, at the age of 47, he made two life-changing decisions.

The first was to blow his whistle for the last time and end his career as a professional rugby ref. The second was to become a parent – and a solo parent at that. This is the story of JK’s decision to have a baby by surrogate, the two-year fertility process that followed, and the subsequent birth of his son Kaleb. 

Immediately I loved that this book is written by a woman. A mother herself, Joanne Jowell. I know immediately, she will have the same questions I have. The same concerns. Joanne takes us back to Jonathan’s childhood, she interviews people close to him, she is in his home….all giving us such an intimate look into why Jonathan chose to go this route. Jonathan does not sound like an easy person to get to know, but Joanne just has such a good way of dealing with the walls he puts up. I feel like I’m in the room, at the coffee shop….at the table, when she interviews him. I absolutely love the way she chose to write this book.

As a mom myself, I found myself raising my eyebrow at some of Jonathan’s parenting choices more than once. However Kaleb is his kid. This is his journey. He is doing the best he can, well…him and all the childminders he can afford. #NoJudgement I truly appreciate the honesty of this book! Also the inclusion of the surrogate, adds to the fascination….her role and her continued role in Kaleb’s life….is there one?? You’ll have to read to find out!

Just a random side note, one of the best things about this book, was discovering some history into my own son’s name. Jonathan put a lot of thought into choosing Kaleb’s name. With the thought process, it included some ties to ‘Joshua’, so that was quite a discovery for me. 

I think this is such an interesting and fascinating book. It’s not about rugby, but there is some rugby talk. Rugby gets my husband interested and he asks: Okay so I can read it when you’re done? I’m only too happy for anybody in my house to be doing some reading! I’m not big on ‘autobiography’ type or non-fiction books, but I definitely think I am a changed gal after this one 😉

Whether you’re a mom or dad though…we’re all just Winging It aren’t we?

Winging It is available at various online retailers and retails for around R199.  After this review, are you as intrigued as I was?

I’m Simone, a mom of 3, a wife...obsessed with my family, makeup and books!


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