To the boy who thought he was a man before his kids were born;
Part II: The Practical Version
Note: I have a few friends that are new dads or soon to be new dads. Hopefully they’ll come across this and it’ll be useful – maybe you found this article through a google search.
I found, at least in my journey through new fatherhood, or whatever you want to call it, that all or nearly all of the support was directed at my wife.
That’s not a bad thing, although when nurses and doctors and care providers, etc., act like you’re an accessory to a crime rather than a part of an important and significant process and partnership in bringing a child into the world, you can feel a little left out and neglected. I did.
Realistically and emotions aside, your wife and you are playing different roles. Every couple is going to be different. From the scant experience I’ve had, I wanted to summarize my approach to parenting and share my experiences with others. I hope it is helpful!
Happy and Healthy
Those are the two things I wanted from my girls, before they were born – for them to be happy and healthy. Fulfill their needs and wants, basically.
And spoil the shit out of them. Why not? There are actually a lot of reasons. . .
Healthy encompasses all of the things we, as adults, do on a daily basis without really thinking about it; food, water, shelter, and hygiene. Happy comes after all of those.
They’ll eat and sleep and need a diaper change or two, then you’ll do it all again. When they’re newborns, sleep when they sleep. Trust me.
Babies will cry if they’re hungry, tired, too hot or cold, or have a dirty diaper. It’s not personal – it’s just the only way for them to tell you any of those things. They’re doing their best.
They won’t be happy if they’re hangry. . . or covered in shittt.
Newborns will bottle feed or nurse; they’ll get the food and water they need there. Shelter is a little more ambiguous; if they’re too hot, too cold, that could be a problem. 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. They can get sunburned as well, so no 14ners with the babes this year. Also, clean diapers are ideal.
Regular baths are a good idea.
For everyone involved.
Happy is very ambiguous. I have no idea what makes my girls happy, really. They do like to be held. Right now, they like peek-a-boo. I play a game where I tap their noses and say, “boop!” and they smile or laugh.
I talk to them. I give them a peck on the forehead when I say good morning, and the same when I say good night.
When they were still in the womb, I’d read to them. They seemed to recognize my voice after they were born, and I still read to them.
I spend time with them. I treat them like they’re important, because they’re important. If you don’t teach them that, show them that, how will they know?
That’s all I have for you.
Today at least.
Take care of their needs and wants and spend time with them. They’re little people, and will do their best. You can’t give them anything less in return; that’s not fair to them.
It’s not always easy. It isn’t always hard. You’re all they have, and you know, their mom.
…and hopefully your families and grandparents and godparents and…
Take care of them. Take care of your partner. Take care of yourself. Take care of each other.
Get a babysitter. Take a break. Go to the movies and take a $20, two-hour nap in uncomfortable seats. We did. Go pay for an overcooked steak that doesn’t say moo, you silly, cultured savage, you.
Gross. Who eats cooked food? Paleo, bruh.
There is no them without you and her and baby, no we without us. You’re a team that’s grown by one (or two!). You’re part of something greater than the sum of its parts.
See Part I here.