10 Things Nobody Told Me About Being a Dad
BY CRAIG STEPHENS
Photo © crystalmarie1980/Twenty20
Apr 8, 2019
When we first decided to become parents, I thought it would be easy. It wasn’t. As months of attempting pregnancy turned into years, I feared I’d never be a father. Which was why I didn’t believe it when Laura entered my office late that night, stick in hand, proclaiming her pregnancy with irrefutable certainty. When three subsequent tests all showed positive, we booked an appointment and confirmed the life-changing event. Finally, we would be parents.
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Cut to six months later: We sit in a restaurant staring down at a sealed envelope on the table. During an ultrasound earlier that day, Laura had asked the nurse to write down the sex. I take a deep breath, open the envelope and slowly unfold the paper within. On it, handwritten in blue ink, are four words: Congratulations. It’s a girl!
So, there we were, charging blindly into the most profound of life’s adventures, having no idea what we were in for. Looking back, it’s been the most amazing ride of my life, filled with experiences I fully expected, and others I couldn’t have imagined. Here are just a few of the latter:
Your cost of living will go up. And up. And up.
Let’s start with the essentials: Formula, diapers, daycare and dozens of other necessities are added to your weekly expenses. That fancy European stroller? It cost more than your first vehicle. To add insult to injury, you need a degree in mechanical engineering to get it in the car. Not good for promoting harmony between sleep deprived parents. My advice? Pass on the expensive gear or go second hand. They’ll outgrow stuff in the blink of an eye.
They become boss
Life will be bliss — and for the first couple of years, it is. But by junior kindergarten it is clear who is in charge. Frequent reprimands, siding with her mom in disagreements, wagging an admonishing finger at you, saying, “Bad Daddy,” are now the new normal. Thankfully, this phase is brief.
You will watch kids TV – lots of it
Without realizing it, you will still be watching your child’s favourite cartoon program a half-hour after she has gone to bed. Ditto music: The Wiggles will be your new drive time soundtrack. You will discover that singing along to Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car can take the stress out of any traffic gridlock in the city.
You will enjoy playing princess
You will spend many hours shopping for princess dresses, tiaras and magic wands. You will view every Disney princess movie ever made — and not just once but repeatedly to the point where every line of dialogue is forever seared in your memory. In a few years, she will ban all things “princess” from her world, and you find yourself kind of missing Jasmine.
You will be a lice killer
Suddenly, you are living a classic horror film — Night of the Nits. Only in this version, you face a seemingly endless legion of barely visible Godzillas camped in your child’s hair. No matter how many you kill, they keep coming on until you finally find a shampoo that works. Later, you briefly consider responding to a call for volunteer nit inspectors at your daughter’s school.
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You will be sick of being sick
Remember that three-year stretch when you went without so much as a sniffle? You will be visited by new and supercharged versions of bugs whose ancestors last encountered your aging immune system decades ago. Not to mention afflictions you’ve never even heard of. What is hand, foot and mouth disease anyway? And why — as you stare in the mirror the morning of that important presentation – have your eyeballs suddenly turned pink? Time to order that hazmat suit on Amazon.
You will be the wheel parent
Much of your life will now be spent navigating neighborhood back lanes and side streets in a blur of pick-ups and drop-offs. Daycare to SK. SK to ballet. Ballet to the kid’s walk-in clinic to get that earache checked out. Back on the road, you imagine you are Batman — steely eyed, square jawed, gripping the wheel, grinding the gears through Gotham. Except that you are you. In a four-cylinder compact, stuck in traffic listening to the Wiggles.
You will be the pundit of parks
You never thought much about parks before you were a dad. But you are now a bonafide expert in all things playground. You know every park in a five-kilometre radius in excruciating detail. The ones that look like pirate ships. The ones with old-school rope ladders. Oh, and that rapidly growing egg on your forehead? Just a reminder that you have doubled in size since the last time you were on the monkey bars.
Your kid will refuse what you’d die for
Today, like just about every day, you give your child the “how to nap” demonstration. You yawn, you stretch, you feign blissful exhaustion. You sell it like it’s the biggest deal of your life. It works…on you. Naps are wasted on the young.
You will never look at people the same way again
Having a child will make you realize one thing above all others: That every person, no matter what stage or status, began their journey as wide-eyed and innocent as the infant you now hold in your arms. And that makes you just a little less judgmental and a lot more forgiving.
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