One Year In: Reflections from a First-time Dad

First_birthday_cake
Image courtesy of Polymath38/Wikimedia Commons

Our first year with the little bambino is now in the books and what a year it’s been. I completely underestimated the learning curve that comes with parenthood. I am not talking about the learning that the little man went through but the learning we went through as parents.

The following is a list of observations for the first-time dads out there who come across this. Hopefully some of it will help you in some way and full disclosure, I in no way think I have figured it all out:

  • I took three weeks off of work after my son was born so I could stay home, help my wife and generally be a “condor” dad for the little human we brought home. If you can pull it off, take as much time as you can to be there for those first days of your newborn’s life. It is precious bonding time which you cannot replicate again. Also, you get to learn a heck of a lot about wipes, formula measurements, bottle nipples and the rest of the commercial baby product machine out there.
  • Help your wife. She has done all the heavy lifting to this point, you have hopefully been supportive, a confidant and at times a punching bag when called upon. Babies themselves are amazing. The change that happens to a woman’s body during pregnancy is unreal and likely would send the toughest of us hombres running for the hills in fear. Be a man and be there.
  • If your country or company offers it, take some paternity leave dads. I was lucky enough to be in a position to do so and did so for a month when the little guy was 10 months old. I figure, 20 years from now, I won’t be lamenting the month of work I missed but treasuring the 24/7, daily time spent with my son.
  • Poo is a pooey thing. It will amaze you how a little thing can create so much of it and in so many different consistencies, colours and smells. It will stink at times. It will make you gag on some occasions. So be it, it comes with territory, so just wipe and roll with it.
  • Also, on the subject of poo, it has a way of appearing at the most untimely moments, like when you are stuck in traffic, in a line at the Walmart where the cashier moves at the speed of molasses or when the baby is wearing white clothing. The Boy Scout motto is “be prepared” and that should be your credo…daily…trust me.
  • Every baby is different and everyone has advice. Some of it will be applicable but remember, nothing is written in stone. I’d say about only 20 per cent of the advice I received from dads has really applied a year in. Consider your source and be appreciative of the imparted wisdom. I found that a majority of the advice I deemed not applicable was usually stuff wrapped in hyperbole or general myth. Every baby is different, remember that, so you will have to blaze your own trail. You might find only 20 per cent of this blog post worthy of your time. If so, mission accomplished pour moi.
  • Get your baby car seat professionally installed, it is worth the peace of mind.
  • Allow yourself to enjoy the feeling of change after your baby is born. You are now a dad and it’s a new level of “man up” time. For me, everything seemed to be in a heightened state. Colours were brighter. The air crisper. My world felt surreal. Take a breath and allow yourself to enjoy all that. You have contributed to the human race and you now have a life you are responsible for. You and your partner are now a family- a new level of bedrock in life which should keep you sane in an insane world. Once you realize that, the crap which would occupy your time at work, on television and in general life, will be refocused if you allow it.
  • Once your baby gets crawling, get down on the floor with him or her, crawl with them. Look at the world around you from their vantage point. It’s a refreshing perspective…also, it will help with baby-proofing recon.
  • Think of things that could be “firsts” for your little one. It does not have to be a formal list, chances are they will not remember the first itself but the exposure to it is important and heart-warming. The first time our little man felt rain on his face, tasted snow, saw geese fly overhead, stared at a tree rustling in the wind or looked at clouds from an airplane window was pretty awesome to see as he tried to register it.
  • You can’t hug and kiss your kid enough. Do it. Show them you love them. They are your new little buddy or little princess and you are the big bear which is supposed to be their safe, protective and warm haven.
  • Lastly, the chances of you getting peed on have gone up exponentially. Be at the ready and remember that Boy Scout motto.
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