It’s no secret that having kids demands immediate and absolute sacrifice. It could be argued that virtually every dad to be eventually gets “the talk”. Whether it’s from your parents or your peer group, we all get the lengthy diatribe about how little sleep we’ll get or how many of our beloved hobbies will be neglected. We’re battered with substantial lists of possibilities, from complications during pregnancy to horror stories about tragedies during birth. We lie awake at night pondering even the mundane way things will change; perhaps a career move will be postponed or you will decide to move back home for support. In between choosing which stresses will contribute most to our inevitable drinking problem, we think of clever names and buy cutesy outfits that make us smile, amazed and delighted at the thought of such a delicate, tiny person inhabiting them.
The question still remains, what makes a father? What sacrifices define our experience? When do our fears subside and the magical parenting genes kick in? If you find out, please let me know, because as of this writing I am waiting for them to sleep, so I can crack the first bottle of wine of the night and vent to my wife about what little monsters they were today.
If you’re a dad to be, you probably just gasped, if you’re seasoned and presumably tired dad, I hope you felt comfortable enough to relate and laugh. Obviously I love them, they are the air I breathe and all those other niceties we’ve grown accustomed to using when talking about a job we’re all expected to be perfect at. The truth is, it can be brutal and you won’t always like them, but that is ok. You will be bored to tears and frustrated to the point of shouting, more times than you would ever admit publicly lest you be lampooned and made the topic of a mean spirited social media post.
You will get passed the pregnancy. You will be forever changed by the childbirth. If you survive the 3 am feedings, sleepless nights, and uncontrollable crying, you can rest assured the dust that accumulates on your Xbox controller will be easy to wipe off when you’re ready to pick it back up again. They will get big enough to walk, and when they do, you will spend all of your time making sure they don’t walk into the corners of cabinets or off of steps and porches. They will learn to use the potty, and it will feel like a huge accomplishment until you learn that using the potty and wiping are two separate training processes, and the latter is much more arduous to master.
The sacrifices are much more catastrophic than we’d initially imagined. Some days the rare and much sought after bliss of using the bathroom alone will outweigh your concerns for them being unaccompanied whilst eating a snack or participating in a messy activity. Your carpet is sure to pay the price for your simple desires, but life will go on.
Hear me now dad to be, the fears are warranted, and the sacrifices are countless, but the feeling when you see them experience true and honest magic in the world around them is indescribable. Every sacrifice you make, will be vastly overshadowed by the joys you will experience. Like when watching them experience all the best things for the first time. The first taste of ice cream. The first interaction with insects and animals. The first realization of accomplishment as evidenced by a glowing smile and a tiny raised fist. Soon those “sacrifices” don’t really feel like sacrifices…more like things that got in the way of real purpose. Now, it is becoming more clear.