It’s the holiday season, and more and more of my friends and co-workers have welcomed new additions to their households, or are expecting to soon. This got me thinking about my experience being a father, and thought I’d share for fun, and to prepare those new and expecting parents for some of what they may come to face!
You child will adoringly tell you that he/she loves you, then less than 5 minutes later scream that you’re mean and unfair. Exhausted children have trouble falling asleep, and injured kids miraculously heal when you reach a playground, then complain they’re unable to walk the moment it’s time to go home. Medically, hyperactive kids are given stimulants to calm them down. Embrace the illogical, and maybe you have a chance. (Or not. Who am I kidding?)
Where am I
In college, we had some days where we woke up confused to our surroundings. (Of course, for you readers I’m sure that was due to late night studying and rarely due to partying.) As a parent of a baby, when I took night shifts, I couldn’t always remember the sequence of events that started with me going to sleep in my own bed, and waking up next to my daughter in her bed, or on the floor next to her, or just in the middle of the living room floor. I was just glad to find that everyone was all right. Oh, and if a parent says something completely nuts, give the benefit of the doubt that we’re sleep-deprived and maybe not insane, yet.
I used to be picky about my food. We all have standards. Mine used to include: prepared for me, only eaten by me, not in someone else’s mouth at any time, never touched the floor, or anywhere else but the plate for that matter. This all changes, you’ll see.
Is Nothing Sacred
Between the height of toddlers, their newly found abilities to walk and then run, and the strong desire to embrace you, I’ve been hit in the groin exponentially more times as a father than in years of sports. Now, I instinctive turn slightly to the side when I see a running hug coming.
And just to be clear, children love it when you get hurt. This applies to both moms and dads willing to take the kick, punch, fall, pillow to the head, etc. Time to channel your inner Stooge.
Just kidding on the header. Your kids will want to talk about poop and pee for at least 10 years (still counting). In fairness, when the baby is born, it’s all you as parents seem to discuss. Frequency, size, color (yep), where it landed, how many times you had to change before you could actually walk out the door. Eventually, it becomes an eternal discussion in the house. My younger one proudly announces when she farts and the older one laughs appreciatively.
Time to Go
When I was single, I could wake up and if motivated, be showered and out the door in 10 minutes. Now, it’s one hour getting everyone ready. You have no idea.
Your best friend is a prankster
Imagine if the person you love deeply was also a consummate prankster. Every day, she/he decided to pull a little prank on you. Switch your shoes, hide your keys, throw away utensils, hide your current book, turn off your laptop before you saved work, call your boss at 8 am by pushing the speed dial on your phone. This child you love is a natural trickster.
As they grow, your child will be able to talk and form sentences, but have no concern for when it’s appropriate to say certain things. It’s like an anti-HR robot calling people as he/she sees them. When describing the trials and tribulations of fatherhood, no one bothered to tell me that includes your daughter yelling, “Daddy has a penis” from the public bathroom. And of course, your embarrassment only fans the flames (see “All Smiles” above).
A lot has been said about parenthood making us self-aware, and this is definitely true. I see in my children parts of me that I like, and parts I want to change. Just like myself, I need to accept every part in them. Yet it’s fascinating to watch as they grow and learn and adapt, and occasionally I find myself re-learning a lesson from long ago. During the sleep deprivation and intense connections where the superficial becomes less meaningful, the satisfaction of helping someone else fills your life and takes you to a better place.
So yeah, enjoy it when you’re not confused, exhausted, hurting, starving, late, and embarrassed!