People always ask me what it’s like being a new dad. How it felt the first time Popeye and I made eye contact. What kind of emotions I feel when I pick him up and he wraps his little arms around me.
I’m totally lying, no one actually asks me that.
So while I patiently wait for someone to query me on the finer points of dadding, I will share a few things I have picked up these last three and a half months on what it’s like to be a new dad.
Side note: Interestingly (to me at least), it was exactly one year ago today that we verified that we were going to have a baby.
The actual job isn’t that hard, it’s the hours that get you
I know that people like to say that parenting is the world’s toughest job and while it is challenging, it’s not really hard. Coal mining is hard, parenting is just all-consuming and relentless. Changing a diaper, holding a bottle, playing airplane and rocking the little man to sleep is not difficult, but put those tasks on a playlist set to shuffle and infinite repeat and the grind would eventually make Ghandi scream (hint: that guy was Mr. Patient).
Which leads me to…
Sometimes you have to dig deep for patience
Wow, there is just no amount of preparation that you can do to be ready for dealing with your spawn. There is nothing more needy than a helpless baby and nothing more aggravating than not knowing what they need when they are upset. I’ve always known that my time to shine as a parent will be when Popeye is old enough to interact and play. I will play the crap out of some Legos when the time comes but until then, I have to step back, take a deep breath, and practice tolerance.
You must realize that a 14 pound mini person is now in charge
This little guy, who is younger than the hair on your head, is the boss now. Sure, you can act like you’re calling the shots and try to schedule his day, but you know what happens when you’re about to leave the house for an appointment and he decides that it’s prime dumping time? You’re going to be late (and possibly smell of poop). Know what happens when he decides to wakey wakey at 5:24 in the AM? You’re getting up (and possibly smelling poop).
You have to accept that you actually have emotions
I am not an emotional fella. Sure, my eyes leaked a tad when the Yankees won their last World Series and Game of Thrones sometimes keeps me up at night as I try to come to grips with yet another death (spoiler alert?), but other than that, I’m not affected by much. Let me rephrase that, I wasn’t affected by much. Nowadays, even a commercial can get me going (grab the Kleenex, this might sting a little bit):
It’s completely, insanely and amazingly life altering
When I talked to other dads before we decided to have a baby, they all said it was life changing and it most definitely is. It is one of the most demanding, aggravating, tiring, grueling and smelliest things a human being can ever do. Yet, right when you get to that breaking point the damnedest thing happens. The little man looks you in the eyes and you look in his and you see yourself in him.
Then he smiles that special, toothless smile that only the two of you share. You know, the one he uses just for you. He looks up at you with those impossible baby blue eyes and smiles that perfect little smile…