It’s been awhile since I pushed some words to this outlet. Perhaps the lack of time and energy to do so can be summed up in one four letter word… BABY! Yes, the lovely lady and I have embarked on the lifelong journey of parenthood. I now consistently get asked what it feels like to be a father so I thought I’d put out a few of the musings that have come to me during my first 3 months into the journey.
It’s not what I thought it’d be
That’s neither a positive or negative statement. It’s just different from whatever preconceptions I had going in. We had roughly 9 months to prepare for his coming so I read baby books and regularly talked to my friends and colleagues that have already taken the plunge into parenthood. While much of it was good advice and amusing anecdotes, none of it really resonated until my son just miraculously showed up one day. Outside of extra visits to the doctor and some more foot rubs for the mama-to-be, for the most part I pretty much went about life as usual until the birthday. Weekend beer festival benders with the guys, concerts, hours and hours in the music studio, baseball games, all continued, even with a pregnant woman in tow. In fact, it was almost more convenient for my wild side sometimes because I had a go-to designated driver!
Much of this changed of course the day he showed up. I think a lot of men fear that having children is going to take away the freedom needed to do things like beer festivals and concerts, I think I kind of did. And let’s be honest, it does to a degree because the energy and time needed for those things often gets tapped out. But once he arrived, a lot of unexpected feelings kicked in that overrode that fear and made it mostly irrelevant. Things I felt like I would be missing out on, just weren’t as important anymore. The crazy thing is, this little being shows up that is totally demanding, unbelievably frustrating and exhausting, yet you still think he/she is overwhelmingly awesome for some reason. Mother Nature must pump some good hormones/drugs through us to get through this stage. Not to say I don’t get jonesin’ to go out once in a while (or even have an hour or two to myself), because I do regularly, but it’s nothing a little planning and forthought can’t usually solve. You know, like something an adult might have to do.
One thing I’m still fearful of conceding is the frequency and manner in which I used to travel. I’m generally not a pre-packaged, resort-staying, type traveler and mostly wing it on trips. I’ve discovered my biggest adventures this way. Having a child in tow will inevitably change our travel style a bit. At the same time though, I am anxious to show him the world and if I can help it, it mostly won’t be through packaged Disney colored glasses.
I’m always so tired
Surely this isn’t news to any father but I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in months. Whether it’s from the baby waking us up or just sleeping on the couch in hopes of getting some sleep to function at work the next day, sleep is not good. I’m even fortunate enough to have a partner who let’s me sleep in the other room on work nights while she takes the burden of the little howling monkey that is our son. At 3 months it’s getting better but it’s still not great. It can really zap my motivation to do things like music making or even reading a book. In fact, night time studio sessions are mostly gone now because I can’t even keep my eyes open at the computer after 8pm. Any recent musical work I’ve done is usually in a pre-workday 5am session. Needless to say, it’s been an adjustment and slowed me down quite a bit. I’m determined not to forego things I love doing such as music though, I just need to adapt. This is probably a moment in many men’s lives when hobbies and dreams are left to drift away. I don’t think it’s good to let that happen for both your sake and your child’s. Teach your kids not to let go of passions and dreams in the face of challenges.
Take all advice with a grain of salt
I suppose that’s a good approach to anything in life but you’ll get inundated with advice when a baby shows up. All I can surmise so far is that all babies are different. For instance, our guy doesn’t care much for swaddling. It pretty much has the opposite effect most books state it will. Our guy likes to be held a lot but usually only up at the standing level of the adults. Putting him in a baby chair on the floor and hoping he’ll just chillout rarely ever happens. He likes a lot of stimulation. Some babies are happy to just hang out and observe it seems. According to my parents, I was that way. Apparently it’s not hereditary. It’s sometimes easy to forget that this little being who is completely helpless and can’t really communicate very well with you is a totally unique person with a personality. And just because he/she came from your DNA, doesn’t mean they will be like you or even be the type of person you might normally hang out with socially. I guess my only real advice, that I think is pretty failsafe, is buy a lot of diapers. You’ll need them.
So those are my dribbles of reflections and half wisdoms for today. One last thing of course, this post isn’t complete without a picture of my main man and newly appointed life coach.