Daddy Duty

Sleep, Eat, Diaper Change. Repeat.

How does it feel to be a Parent?

on April 23, 2012

NOTE: If you remember nothing else from this post, just keep this top part in mind. Claire and I are happy parents.  We are very happy to have JJ and consider it a very (bitter) sweet experience.  Like all things, it has its highs and its lows, but we’re adjusting well to our new roles and are happy to have JJ in our lives. Really!

Lately, when I’m asked how parenting is going, I have a few general responses depending on the day:

  1. Tired. Tired. Tired. Why’d we do this? What’s sleep? We should have waited.
  2. Great. Fantastic. Amazing. It’s just wonderful. It’s so fun!
  3. A combo of the above two with “I have a new found respect for all of the parents in the world” added in.

I’m torn at times as to how to answer as I feel that people really don’t always want or tell the truth. My most truthful response is: “Parenting is really hard. When he smiles at us and learns a new skill or grows, it’s the most fun in the world. Literally nothing in the world could take our attention away from him and there’s nothing that we wouldn’t do for him. Yet, when he cries wails, hits us (intentionally or not, we’re still not sure), or excretes on us, parenting isn’t so fun. It’s just not.  It’s also challenging, hard, and turns your world upside down. Oh, and did I forget to mention that babies are expensive?”

For some people, if I mention the slightest issue, say “JJ slept 1 minute less than normal,” they jump to say it’s because _____________. For good measure, they’ll also probably say that their little Johnny never did that. I’ve learned to stick to response 2 with this group.

For others, if we mention a problem or a tough time, they assume we have post partem depression and want to call the number on us. They can’t fathom that we didn’t enjoy that we got spat up on and are late to everything. With them, it’s best to stick with response 2 also.

We also have friends who are considering having children or are already expecting and we’re torn between encouraging them and warning them simultaneously. I know the truth scares some of these people, but it’s also good for them to learn from our experiences so we’re torn.

So, why is parenting so hard?

  • Especially as a new parent, you think and re-think things so as not to make a “bad” choice.
  • You constantly think about the repercussions of every action you make as it will impact your child one way or another.
  • Babies don’t come with a manual.
  • Babies don’t care about your work, deadlines, schedule, appointments, or anything. Just plan on being late to everything.
  • Techniques that may have worked for _____ in the past, may not work now. Babies are constantly changing, growing, and learning.
  • You’re forced to think more while simultaneously being more sleep deprived.
  • You’re simply having to juggle more.
  • You lose your freedom as babies are dependent on you for everything.

Loving and caring for JJ while balancing our normal lives literally wears my wife and me out on a daily basis. I have seen many an acquaintance breeze through parenthood with the help of an ipad, cartoons, rice cereal, a pacifier, and a rocker while they played Playstation. I’ve also seen that their children are cross-eyed, have indigestion, are dirty, and have missed nearly every milestone on the growth chart.

My wife and I made a conscious decision to bring JJ into this world and we are conscientiously and methodically doing our best to bring up an upstanding citizen full of hope, pride, love, and joy that we can all be proud of. His future successes will not be a fluke as they will be the culmination of a village’s love, sacrifice, and care!

As for those considering having a child, take a step back for a second and think long and hard about your decision. Just for kicks, do all of these things and ensure you won’t miss them when you have a kid:

  • Go see a movie
  • Eat at a fancy restaurant (The Wynn forbids children under 5 from eating at any of its fine dining)
  • Take a quick weekend getaway using only a carry on
  • Drive a convertible/coupe
  • Sleep in
  • Be on time
  • Watch something scary on tv.
  • Drink coffee/caffeine/alcohol (frowned upon for breastfeeders)
  • Eat spicy/gas-producing foods (frowned upon for breastfeeders)
  • Stay out late (past 7/8 PM), actually just go out

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what’s on the top of my mind. Having a kid doesn’t completely end your life, but it takes a lot more coordination to get out and do anything with or without your child once you have one.

In this age of pedophiles, thieves, and who knows what, it’s not as easy to simply entrust your most precious flesh and blood into the care of someone else. It can obviously be done, but you have to be careful. It certainly doesn’t help that Claire and I are CSI and Criminial Minds fans. When you’re childless, you’re free to do as you please when you please.

Oh, and for the women planning on getting pregnant, remember that during the 9 months of pregnancy, you shouldn’t eat raw food, lunch meats, caffeine (high amounts), most seafood, and you can’t drink alcohol either. Also, don’ forget about the joys of weight gain, cramps in unexpected places, general discomfort, the actual delivery process etc. Pretty picture, eh?

Having said all of this, having your child smile at you makes it all worth it. You certainly don’t forget the sacrifice, but it sure numbs the pain as you smile back at him and know that there isn’t a thing you wouldn’t do for him and that all you want in the world is for him to have a happy and healthy life.

P.S. I fear the day that we will fight. I fear the day that I’ll need to reprimand him. I also fear the day he’ll say something like “I wish I was never born,” “______ is a better father than you, ” etc. With anyone else, I can imagine unleashing a war like no other. However, I already anticipate biting the bullet for the love of my child. Welcome to parenting!



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