Top 5 Things I Did Not Expect About Fatherhood

5. I did not expect that I would become a one hundred percent sucker for cutesy things. I like cute, and I’m not ashamed to admit it… but the number of times I’ve seen new clothing for Sage and immediately went, “Awwwwwwww!” has really surprised me.

4. I did not expect that I would immediately start judging other parents’ decisions. I’ve always tried to be very fair in recognizing that there is no one formula for raising kids. What works for you may not work for me and vice versa. But I can’t help but find myself hearing of other people’s decisions and immediately thinking, “That’s dangerous” or “That’s self-destructive” or “I hope you don’t have any more kids.” I don’t like this part of me that’s emerging, although I can recognize the value of having strong convictions about parenting.

3. I did not expect that I would be as patient as I am. While there are certainly times when I get frustrated (especially when she screams for over an hour late at night and I’m trying to calm her down), I’ve been very surprised that I can go a long, long time of struggling with her fussiness and still maintain my cool.

2. I did not expect that I would be so on edge when others hold my child. It’s not that I don’t trust these friends and family; it’s that I have just handed over the most precious thing I have, and people are not holding her exactly the way that I would, nor do they know how to comfort her the ways I have learned to do so. (There are some people that I really don’t trust to behave with my kid — I expect them to do things like try to give her cookie crumbs or something like that simply because they don’t think it’s a big deal. It may not technically be a big deal, but IT IS A BIG DEAL.

1. I did not expect that I would so quickly get used to baby bodily fluids. I’ve cleaned that backside so often that I don’t even think about it anymore. But even the rare times that she’s spit up directly on my “oh God not dirt or anything sticky or even lotion” hands? Meh. So what. I’ve got a spit rag. I’m more concerned that Sage is feeling all right.

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5 Responses to Top 5 Things I Did Not Expect About Fatherhood

  1. Andrea Lott says:

    I have to say, I’ve become less judgmental of other parents. I feel like I’m SO INCAPABLE, I know that most parents do the best they can. I know it in a very visceral way. I know it of my parents. I know it of parents I see f-ing up in the news. I know it of parents I know. I really truly think we all do the best we can. While I think I’m an exceptional parent and the proof of that is my exceptional kid, I’m just muddling through, the best way I know how. I really feel most parents are in this boat now. I might be better than some, worse than others, but we all do the best we can.

    This might be wrong, but since becoming a parent, I’m actually LESS judgmental of parent murderers, neglecters and abusers. I know what it’s like to parent on limited resources. I know what it feels like to not know what you’re doing. I know what it’s like to be at your wit’s end. I know what it’s like to overcome those things — by the grace of God or the Universe or whatever you believe. It’s not my strength. I’m sure of that. I’m not strong. I do my best. I think all caring parents, with very few exceptions, do. But due to exceptions, circumstances… not all parents have the resources I do. I feel lucky every day. I feel lucky that I am able to do what I’m able to do with her. Even today.

    Yes, I feel child abuse to my core. Every story I hate. Yes every parent who chooses a different path than I, I wonder why. I am curious about their decisions. But in my heart, I know that person is choosing the best future they are able for their child and themselves.

    I also don’t think it’s wrong to not consider yourself as a parent. Most parents think of their child as everything. However, there are at least two people in every parent-child relationship and the parent is a person too with feelings and needs. Sometimes the parent wants to breastfeed longer than the child… or vice versa… or wants the child to potty train sooner than the child would otherwise find necessary… or vice versa… or start the child in preschool due to their own needs sooner than may be “perfect” for the child… I think those needs are valid and need to be addressed. Parents are people too.

    I know these types of things are probably not what you’re talking about… I just find that I have so much more compassion for other parents now that I’m a parent because so many decisions are so difficult. I can’t imagine what parents do without the support systems I have.

  2. joanna says:

    Re: #4- I’ve found myself to become more judgy, too, and every time I catch myself, I’m shocked. “They’re letting their kid run with a lollipop in his mouth??”, “I can’t believe they turned the car seat around already- I know their toddler’s only 1”, and “She’s totally wearing her baby wrong in that sling” are all thoughts that have passed through my head.

    And, #1- If you ever want to save a bunch of money and start using cloth diapers, I can hook you up. 🙂

  3. joanna says:

    Re: #4- I’ve found myself to become more judgy, too, and every time I catch myself, I’m shocked. “They’re letting their kid run with a lollipop in his mouth??”, “I can’t believe they turned the car seat around already- I know their baby’s barely 1″, and “She’s totally wearing her baby wrong in that sling” are all thoughts that have passed through my head.

    And, #1- If you ever want to save a bunch of money and start using cloth diapers, since you can handle the bodily fluids, I can hook you up. 🙂

  4. Helloheather says:

    I love this list.

  5. Br.Bill says:

    Re: #1

    Betse and I have 2 boys who are from her previous marriage. She says, “I knew you were going to be a good father when Justin sneezed and you calmly wiped his messy face with your bare hand.”

    Look, sometimes there’s a Kleenex. Other times, not so much. There’s no reward for being dainty. Regardless, I wash my hands plenty.

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