I’m by no means an expert on being a father, but I do feel like I a solid veteran on the subject from my 6+ years in the league of not extraordinary fathering which means I have some perspective I can share with rookie dads. This post is dedicated to my homeboy, Jake Feldman, who will soon embark on his fatherhood journey with his lovely wife Ena. And while Ena is the real hero since she’s a mom and what mom’s all have to do is just beyond anything I can fathom, I felt compelled to drop some knowledge for Jake and anyone else in the young and clueless fraternity of men. Jake, consider this your belated wedding gift because I suck (just kidding, but really, that present is in the mail along with the baby shower one) or maybe the post script to my wedding toast for you guys. And what actually gave me the kick in the ass to finally write this was reading a Facebook post from an Edmentum colleague, Allison Ireland, who after reading a Scary Mommy post asked whether there was a new dad version. Well Allison, here comes my take.
Forgive me though for not getting gushy in this post because that’s not what I do. See I love my kids and felt protective of them from day 1, but let’s face it, as a dad, you have to earn and work for a connection with your newborns. Plus, who really wants to read about how I held my newborn and looked straight into his eyes and the world stopped. Please. Makes me want to vomit. So here goes, my top 5 pieces of advice for new dads. Listen up fellas, because this is the truth.
Understand that your relationship with your baby is immaterial:
I can’t take credit for this one but man it’s spot on. I was hanging out with my friend Alicia the other day describing this proposed post and she blurted this out. That’s right, without prompting, she volunteered it like she’d been harboring this sentiment for years. I might’ve gone a little softer on the approach had I penned it myself, maybe suggest that over time you’ll develop a relationship with your baby and not to get discouraged. Turns out I was wrong on the matter. Think about it, we don’t house the parasite for 9 months, don’t deliver the baby, don’t nurse, and we’re terrible comforters. Honestly, she’s got a point, and man, it’s a pretty good gig to be a dad. You get to relive the Freshman 15 to show solidarity during pregnancy, can still sleep during that nine months, and then once the baby is born don’t have to feed the child every 2 hours, which is really every 60 minutes because they can’t latch or take forever to eat. On the downside, apparently the kid has zero connection to you, but fuck it, at least you slept well.
Find a show to binge watch
Trust me, this is a must. I got lucky with Oliver because he was born in October 2011 which featured the greatest post season drama in baseball history. And that kills me to say as a Red Sox fan because the 2004 ALCS starting with game 4 was insane. But in 2011, from game 162 where we got eliminated from contention by the Rays, to the epic World Series, that October was some of the best baseball I’ve ever seen. And I watched every pitch. Jake, if you’ve never seen Game of Thrones, use my HBOGO code, and by mine I really mean Big Papi’s. Trust me, you, little Feldman, and that vibrating chair will develop a good cadence as you listen to the soothing sounds of the hymns of Westeros. Now that I think about it, March would’ve been ideal for a baby. Imagine all that March Madness I could’ve watched under the pretense of helping out. Well played, Frank Mazzola, well played.
Don’t make judgments on other parenting styles:
Until you’ve been to Target with a screaming kid or tried to have a family dinner out, don’t judge when you see other parents use screen time, or feed their kids junk, or barter to get them to shut the f up. Like March Madness, parenting is about surviving and advancing. You see I too had illusions before baby #1 of not (ab)using TV, or having a house sans swords, or not doping them on sugar before bed. But then I had kid(s). Shit, Bennett’s 1 and he has his own light saber that he makes a whooshing sound with . . . while eating chocolate . . . in front of the TV (kidding, or am I).
So please, make me this promise that you’ll reserve judgment when you see what amounts to “poor parenting” because you haven’t walked a mile in their shoes. Take the other day. I wasn’t there, but my middle son, who is incredibly agile, was being “dangerous” at the local playground. Parents were aghast judging my wife for how horrible of a mom she was for allowing these feats of dexterity. It got super uncomfortable with one dad literally shadowing my son as he was climbing. Meanwhile, my question is why the f are you even there anyway, with your 2 and 3 years olds. If I recall, the placard states something like “equipment for mobile kids only. If your kid is wobbly or sheltered, or you’re a giant pussy, please use the mini playground where we provide pads and helmets and sing kumbaya”. There are plenty of times my son can be challenging, but he’s in his element when he’s being a monkey. Props to the one dad though who turned to his 4 year old and asked “can you do that”, to which she replied “fuck no”, and so he fist bumped O for his climbing skills. That dad is invited any time.
Strollers are like draft picks, you can never have too many:
We describe NBA draft picks (assets), by their defining trait. Rim protector or 3 and D player. Well, the stroller game functions in much the same way. You’ll learn a new vernacular like I did; jogging stroller, umbrella stroller, car-seat stroller. Do a little research and fuck, you could host a fantasy stroller draft. Shit, my garage looks like a goddamned consignment store and that’s par for the course as a parent. And forget it, have a second kid and the process starts all over again with double strollers that even feature a stand up cruising option for big boys. It’s a toss up in my house whether we have more car seats, strollers, or Legos. Sometimes I come home and think Emily has suddenly become a stroller strides instructor and then I realize we just have acquired too many strollers . . . and kids. PS, stroller talk is by far the easiest conversation starter for moms to have. It’s hilarious to watch and reminds me of any number of 007 clips like this.
Don’t make any resolutions for they will forsake you:
I remember after baby #2, I proclaimed that I was going to start drinking half caff. That lasted one night. After baby #3, when I finally got fitted for a sleep apnea mouth guard (the words hot and sexy come to your mind when picturing it), I proclaimed that I would cut down to one cup a day. Well that ship sailed when 4:45-5:15 became our morning reality. Or then there’s my favorite one. I don’t plan to drink anymore, which of course was followed swiftly by the refrain, I don’t plan to drink any less either. Here’s a partial list of some of the resolutions I’ve made over the years besides the great coffee consumption cut-down:
-To eat healthier (in fairness to me, this is more my wife’s idea)
-run a half marathon
-play the drums every day
-stop raising my voice
-Become handy around the house . . . Wait, I specifically pledged not to do this
-Write my book, “After she falls asleep”. Still on page 1 with no plot, only a title.
So just don’t do it. You’ll end up being disappointed or disillusioned. I much prefer being pleasantly surprised on those days when I rock a salad in the airport (like the other night and it was wholly unsatisfying), jam out to Equinox by John Coltrane, or maybe change a light bulb.