My son Brady turned one last month and I don’t quite know where the year went. It seems like yesterday that he was a seven and half pound bundle of bliss.
Now he runs around the house, tears everything out of the cabinets, flips the dog’s water bowl, and runs/crawls away as I scramble to change his diaper.
There are a few things I learned over the past year that future parents should be aware of, while current and past parents can relate:
1) Poop talk!
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There is a marked difference in baby poop once the little guy transitions from breast-feeding to solid foods. Relish your time in the minors those first six months because that is what it is, after that you enter poop’s big leagues!
2) Use cloth diapers to save the planet.
We happily dropped a bunch of cash on brand spanking new cloth diapers because all one has to do is wipe the poop into the toilet and toss the diapers in the wash. That seems easy enough plus it eliminates all those disposable diapers in landfills- right? Yeah, right!I’m telling you, anything, I mean ANYTHING you can do to simply your life with an infant—do it!We used those cloth diapers about as often as Brady has changed his own diaper.
3) Sure, you’ll feel inadequate at times.
There will be times when you feel guilty and completely inadequate as a father, especially if your wife breastfeeds. Those boobs are magic to a screaming child. As a man and a parent all you can do is supportthe person who owns those boobs—whatever she needs.
4) Sleep when your kid sleeps—or during boring meetings.
As a new parent you will get plenty of sleep, but it will be of the following variety: on the couch during the only movie you have watched since he was born, in the rocker with your baby on your chest at 3a.m., during a boring meeting at work and most likely in your office during lunch. As a soldier I learned a long time ago to sleep when I could, which proved to be an important lesson for any new parent.
5) Fingernails that grow like weeds.
Does my kid ingest Miracle Grow for fingernails? Seriously, when does this stop? The issue with the long fingernails is that he scratches himself, especially in his sleep. The battle he wages to keep from being held still and have his fingernails clipped is worthy of study in military academic institutions. As pitched as those struggles are, there will also be times you get impatient or he moves and you clip some of his skin—those are the worst.
6) What you want doesn’t matter.
When I returned from Afghanistan in 2011, I bought a boat for fishing and general tomfoolery since we moved to a coastal community. Now that we have a kid we can toss him in the back and launch, right? Um, no. This winter my wife told me we should purchase season passes to Bush Gardens and Water Country so we can take Brady to the Splash Parks. I was also politely informed we will require a baby trailer now for our bikes. Guess whose boat was put on the market this spring?
7) Manage expectations.
Dinner isn’t on the table when you get home? The laundry isn’t clean and folded when you get home? What, your partner didn’t dust or vacuum? You should be pissed right? What exactly did she do all day when you were at work?
Take a breath and ask yourself, Is the kid fed and clothed? You find that you redefine success and that-in-and-of-itself is the baseline of a successful day. Did your spouse have a chance to shower, maybe get a bite to eat and maybe, just maybe get a chance to work out or throw a load of laundry in—now that is a good day! Welcome home from work dad; now get to work and pitch in around the house.
8) You’re going to screw up—deal with it.
This concept simply doesn’t exist, so get over it. You are going to screw up, so deal with it. The kid is going to fall and bump his head, he is going to sit in a poopy diaper longer than he should, you will feed him the wrong thing, you will have to stop at the store to buy diapers and wipes because you forgot the diaper bag. You may even have to buy a new outfit because you didn’t bring one and there was a blowout. Get over it. Go easy on yourself—the kid will forgive you.
9) A feeling like never before.
My heart beats a little faster when I pull into our street and a smile inevitably splashes across my face as I pull into the drive way, leap out of the car and spring up the stairs. I can’t wait to see him. What started with a cute smile when I walked in developed in to his reaching up his arms when he first saw me, and has now evolved to a wonderful scream of joy, a dropping of whatever he is holding (or pulled out of the drawer) and a determined and gleeful wobble over to greet me. My heart just melts—It is the BEST feeling I’ve ever had.
Boat be damned, I’m heading to Splash Park this weekend!