By Kevin Kilgarriff
AUTHORS NOTE: Throwback Thursday! Here’s an article that I wrote about 8 years ago when I had two whole years of experience as a father under my belt. But I look back on it now and I still think it holds true. And it also goes along with the the them of this blog. Enjoy!
A Word of Warning for Expectant Fathers
By: Kevin Kilgarriff
I’m about to do what I swore I would never ever do in my entire life. I’m going to dish out advice on being a new father. When my wife was pregnant, Dad’s were always “enlightening” me on the intricacies of fatherhood. “You just wait,” they’d tell me. “Wait until you have to get up in the middle of the night! Wait until you have to change a dirty diaper.” “Just wait until you get spit up on.” “Just wait until you have zero freedom left. You can’t go anywhere or do anything!” “Kiss your social life goodbye!”
I wondered why someone would fill my head with all of these thoughts. Were they trying to scare me? Warn me? Make me even just a little bit more nervous than I already was about becoming a father? Yes, yes and yes. You’ll find that there are always dads out there with all different viewpoints on fatherhood. Some are happy when other guys are going to have babies, simply because that’s one more person that has to go through what they’re going through. Some don’t want to have to see others go through what they’re already going through and do what they can to “let you know what you’re in for.” “I wish someone had warned me,” is what I heard most often. And others are well, just sick and sadistic people that just like to watch you squirm. But then there are those that just get it. They understand the gift that is fatherhood and are happy to see other men get the opportunity to experience it. I like to think that I fall within this category.
I’m here to tell you that, regardless of their motives, they’re all correct…to an extent. I’ve had to get up in the middle of the night…a lot! I’ve changed more than my share of dirty diapers – some of them VERY dirty. I’ve been spit up on – some of it VERY Smelly! I don’t have much of a social life. I can’t really even afford to!
All of their predictions came true, and then some. And I wouldn’t change a single thing for all of the money in the world. Sure, I’m not the happiest camper in the world when my daughter starts crying thirty-five minutes before my alarm’s set to go off. Of course I want her to sleep as late as possible! But that crying means that we have a wonderful daughter in our lives. And diapers do stink. They reek! They’re messy and now that she’s getting older and bigger, she doesn’t make it easy for us to get the job done. But, I’ll change diapers as much as I need to if it means not having to accept the alternative – never having had any diapers to change at all. And my social life? It’s not as bad as it seems. It’s true that we don’t get out nearly as much as we used to. But that’s something that happens when you decide to have children. It’s why babysitters were invented. But, if you think you’re going to start a family and not have any responsibility towards them on Friday and Saturday night, you’re sorely mistaken. The truth is that every one of the dads that told me to “just wait” should’ve been telling that I shouldn’t want to wait!
I spent four months at home with my daughter after I lost my job during the slow economy. Now, I had always expected that she would just naturally gravitate towards her mommy. She’d be a Mommy’s girl. I’d always be her Dad and I’d always do my part in terms of parental duties. But, I never thought that she’d be Daddy’s Little Girl for at least a few more years. But those four months at home were the best four months of my life, to date. Her and I bonded like I’d never thought possible. I was bringing smiles to her face just by walking in the room. She was reaching for me to pick her up! We played on the floor and she slept on my chest. It was an amazing feeling. One that I never thought I’d have the chance to experience. It had gotten to the point that my wife was actually feeling left out because our daughter was gravitating towards me! She was the one the baby was supposed to gravitate towards, right? That’s what I said!
Well, eventually I did claw my way back into the working world, and five months later Baby and Mommy are inseparable once again. But I’ll always remember that for those four short months I had it great.
My daughter and I are still close as can be and it’s clear that she loves her Daddy. The way her face lights up and she runs to me when I get home from work just melts my heart. We still play on the floor and I fly her around the house in my arms. She may spend as much time as possible crawling under my wife’s feet. But she’s got a big spot in her heart for Daddy.
I was still wondering, though, what those Dad’s were thinking when they were warning me. When it hit me. This is what Dad’s do, right? They were doing the same things that I’m doing…and loving it as much as me! These were not men who were tired of changing diapers or waking up in the middle of the night. These were men who love their children and are thankful for every minute they get to spend with them. They weren’t warning me. They were just preparing me. Maybe guys just find it easier to talk about the hard stuff than they do to talk about the sappy stuff. Although, I do remember one guy telling me how much I’m going to love my baby. How I’ll want to call out of work every time I see her in the morning. He’ll remain nameless for fear that his friends won’t let him live it down. But he was right. He was so right!
So to any expectant fathers out there. Just wait. Just wait until you have to get up in the middle of the night. Wait until you have start changing dirty diapers. Wait until your baby spits up all over you. Wait until you have no freedom left to speak of. Wait for it, and then embrace it. You’re going to love it! Take advantage of every moment you can. Because they’re sometimes too few and far between. Just remember that Fatherhood is one of the greatest gifts a man can ask for. Sometimes we just don’t like to admit it in public.