The Top 5 Things This DAD Wishes Someone Had Told Him Before the Baby Cameby Hugh Weber
1. Parenting isn’t a situation where MacGyver or Mr. T are going to be of any assistance to you. There are no solutions to this dilemma.
Perhaps the biggest misconception that I had coming into fatherhood was that I would somehow be able to “figure out” my child. Oh, I knew there would be stages. I had heard about the terrible twos and teething, but I imagined that between these milestones I would figure the super-secret song or noise or funny face and that I would magically disarm the greatest of tantrums and tears.
This was incredibly misguided and now feels borderline stupid. Any “solution” you come up with lasts 30 minutes at most. In many cases, it only lasts about 30 seconds. Get used to it. Keep trying. Go Dad!
2. You will never again be able to make a single decision without considering the impact on your child.
Since the birth of my daughter, there have been no decisions that have been made without considering the impact on her. This is true in use of money, use of time and prioritization of life’s many scheduling conflicts. This doesn’t mean that I always make the perfect decision, but it means I consider them in light of her.
Prior to the baby, there were purchases that would be made very impulsively without a consideration of impact. Prior to the baby, I worked some long nights and extended social gatherings engaged in without a handwringing thought about a waiting meal or wife.
I can be honest in saying that even marriage didn’t have this impact on me. (My dear wife, Mrs. Dude, wasn’t terribly excited to hear this, but it is absolutely true.)
If fathers were being completely candid, I think they would have to admit that even in their actions that are less-than-fatherly they still consider the impact on the family.
3. Picture the worst possible imaginable disturbing (borderline criminal) thing that could be done to you by a child, increase it by several orders of magnitude and expect it to occur weekly.
I’m going to leave out some details here. It’s for your own good. You see, my daughter has had some digestive disorders in these first couple months that have required group participation in the process of waste excretion. I know this is vague language, but I can assure you it’s better that way.
In less eventful activities, my daughter has managed to project formula vomit into my ears. I have been covered from elbow to shoulder in a goop that most closely resembles the most incredibly foul baby poop mixed with a liquid form of death.
There is nothing sweet or adorable about this. It’s just a fact.
4. Your wife at her best will be a fundamentally different person than the woman you met on your first date. Your wife at her worst will be an infinitely more terrifying person than the monster you imagined under your bed as a child.
There is no judgment implied in this. Plain and simple, the rules have changed. Learn the rules and it will all be fine. (Editor’s note: Mrs. Dude smiled and nodded when I read her this realization.)
5. Know your limits. If you don’t know your limits, trust friends and family when they tell you that you’ve reached them.
This is not to say that we are all ticking time bombs, but I have heard too many fellow moms AND dads say through tears “This is never going to end. I am never going to sleep. I can’t handle this anymore.” to believe that I am the only one.
Speaking personally, there are times (each and every day) when parenting is completely overwhelming. You are exhausted, the baby is inconsolable and the tension between you and your wife is high. Unless you learn to recognize when you just can’t handle any more stress (emotionally, spiritually, physically), there is a high likelihood that you will put yourself in a position to do and say things that you wouldn’t normally think possible.
So step away. Take a deep breath. Call a friend. But most importantly, acknowledge that you are overwhelmed and don’t take it out on your spouse or child.
BONUS # 6: This change…this baby…represent an opportunity to change life for the better. Please, please, please take advantage of it.
I don’t care whether you’re fighting addiction, have crappy financial management skills or just need to “grow up”, this baby gives you an excuse to become a better person. It’s like a reset button in life. Focus on the future and on something other than yourself and you’ll be amazed at what’s possible. I have friends and family members who struggled with all sorts of demons. Their decisions to embrace fatherhood and become good dads have made all of the difference in their life. Take the challenge. Make a commitment. Be a great dad and an even better person! Your kid is depending on you