On fatherhood

#life 6 min.

This is an assortment of random thoughts I’ve had since I became a parent a year ago. They were written at various times, so some might be contradictory. That’s kinda the point.

It’s okay if some of this doesn’t reflect your experience or beliefs. This is not a manual, just my personal experience.

People don’t actually change much after they become parents. They’re just constantly tired versions of themselves. I like to think that I’m calmer, more zen now, but it could be I’m just too tired to give a shit most of the time.

The highs are high and the lows are low. Trying to get your crying baby to sleep for hours on end will make you feel the deepest despair - or even anger - you’ve ever experienced. Then finally you are watching your baby sleep, and you feel the love like you’ve never felt before. You will somewhat adjust with time. Until that happens, be kind and allow yourself to feel those emotions, especially the supposedly shameful ones.

This is also likely the first time you will honestly care more about another person than yourself. Even on the worst day, being a father is still the most meaningful role of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I got lucky. All the right hormones kicked in when they’re supposed to, making me feel all the right feelings at the right moments (for the most part). Even then, it’s still the hardest thing I’ve even gone through. It’s hard for me to comprehend how much worse it would be when you’re also suffering from postpartum depression (yes, fathers can have it too).

No one tells you how much of being a parent is just constantly sitting down and getting back up to clean something or pick stuff up from the ground.

You gotta give yourself time to “grieve” for your old life. Some of your hobbies and pastimes will have to be put on hold or at least scaled back. Some things will plainly never be the same. You are getting a whole new life in exchange. There will be new discoveries and challenges. In a weird and unique way, raising a child is the most fun I’ve had in years.

Feels weird for a Father’s Day to be about you now.

Children make strong relationships stronger, and weak relationships weaker. If you already think of your family as a team working towards a common goal, I figure you’ll be alright.

Becoming a parent is it forces you to get out of your head and be in the present. Everything is new and requires your full attention. You cannot think about much else when changing diapers, during bathtime, or when dealing with a random daily drama.

Kids don’t need as much stuff as you’d think. This becomes even more apparent when traveling.

As for toys, novelty beats anything, so just let your kid play with any random stuff you already have (if it’s safe). If it’s bright, shiny, or makes weird sounds, it’ll do. On a recent flight, our son chose an empty M&M candy wrapper as his favorite entertainment, even though we brought plenty of “real” toys.

Forming a relationship with your baby isn’t linear, because his development isn’t linear either. There might be days/weeks/months when you are their favorite parent, then there might be times when you have to take the 2nd seat.

Don’t get discouraged. Trust the process.

Initially, the way to keep your sanity is to lower the expectations and celebrate the little things. Sometimes, a cup of coffee or a shower will be the highlight of your day. You can be pissed off about it, or you can appreciate the fact that it will not last. Chill out with self-improvement and life goals for a bit. Plan less and focus more on the present, even when the present sucks. It will not last.

Not to downplay whatever you’re going through, but realize that your wife is very likely having it worse. The physical, mental, and emotional toll of a birth doesn’t end once you leave the hospital. It’s your job to support your wife and ensure she doesn’t feel abandoned.

The 2nd to 4th months were the easiest for me personally. You are starting to get a hang of things. The baby is falling asleep and staying asleep (your mileage might vary). Our son didn’t mind staying with his grandparents for a few hours. Me and the wife went on our first date just 5 weeks after the birth.

Don’t take any of this for granted. Our quality of life went downhill once the baby started crawling. You would no longer find the baby where you left him. The intensity increased again when the baby started standing and trying to reach things. Now you would no longer find your stuff where you left it.

Parenting styles are dime a dozen. They do not matter much in the beginning when you’re just trying to survive. Later on, it can be helpful - if not for others, at least for yourself.

If you want your kids to turn out alright, you want to prioritize consistency. You can be strict or lenient, but you need to be consistent, day to day. That’s where knowing your parenting style comes in handy. When you’re not your best self, you can still remind yourself: “I’m [not] the type of parent who does this or that.”

Luckily, with so many to choose from, you’re bound to find something that fits you. I just recently found out that my intuitions line up pretty spot on with slow parenting (not to be confused with gentle parenting). It should be called “common sense parenting” because it puts the least pressure and assumptions on the parent. It’s funny how in our culture even the most natural things need to be branded, but here we are.

Seeing your child develop a character is fascinating. The things that make him laugh or cry are mostly consistent, but it’s the little details that are most interesting. People he finds compelling, new object that interests him, a new sound he’s trying to make, new skill he’s practicing, how he’s dealing with failure.

Not much changes on any given day, but then suddenly this former potato person you brought from a hospital can move around, grab almost anything, communicate, and show affection.

Knowing there were billions of people before you, and there will be billions after, somehow makes it all easier. Becoming a parent is a big part of the human experience that I would hate to skip.

I don’t know how to end this post. Probably because there is no end, just arbitrary milestones.

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Est. 2011