“The baptism into fatherhood is similar to dunking a kitten into a bucket of ice water”
It’s been a long journey, but here you are in a hospital room tired, bewildered, shocked, and in awe. Moments ago your wife gave birth to your child. Your eyes were once glued to a heart rate monitor strapped to your wife’s abdomen as a tiny heartbeat shot up and down, bringing your heart rate with it. Now, your eyes are glued to a stranger, your new child. You have no clue who this person is, yet you’re in love. It’s a very proud moment for you. “I made this”, you think to yourself. It’s a large victory in your eyes and it should be. But, let’s be clear: your wife did most of the work by literally growing this child while draining her own life force. As tired as both of you are, you must know one thing: during the next several weeks you will not get a break (I know…. not cool). Here is your first chance as a father to “not suck”—to make the next several weeks an easy transition into fatherhood. So how can you keep yourself from sucking at fatherhood? The first rule involves the woman who just made it all happen.
Rule #1: Don’t Piss Off Your Wife
Do not, whatever the circumstance, piss off your wife. DON’T DO IT, FELLA! She just spent the last 8 hours or more recreating a scene from Aliens by pushing a human being out of one of her most sacred parts. Imagine if you pushed a golf ball out of your most sacred part? Yeah, that would be incredibly painful. Make things easy for her and forget about yourself for a while. Things are going to get frustrating and stressful. The baptism into fatherhood is similar to dunking a kitten into a bucket of ice water. No matter how hard you hold onto that rim you have to get comfy in that ice water. No matter what, remember: don’t get mad at your wife and don’t get mad at each other. Remember, you two crazy kids made this happen. Don’t forget about that crucial relationship you built months ago. You both need to be on board for this and need to work together.
Rule #2: Drink A Lot of Coffee
There will be many a long night and you better bet your ass you’ll be waking up a lot with the kid—even as a Dad. If you decide to let your wife take the wake-ups…. refer to rule# 1. Luckily for you, the gods formulated an enchanted beverage, spawned from the garden of Zeus himself: coffee. I didn’t start drinking coffee until I had kids. Now it’s a must.
Yes, there will be long nights for the first few weeks or months; but one thing to remember is: it will get better. I developed a random eye twitch during my first born’s infancy, but it’s nothing a beer can’t fix. Which brings me to rule# 3.
Rule #3: Have a Beer
You’ve been tossed into the ice bucket that is fatherhood. The life you once had so much control over is being driven by a baby you barely know. Many friends and family will be stopping by and the one thing you should always remember, through out all the new found stress and lack of sleep, is to celebrate!
Yes, this is an awesome accomplishment don’t forget that. Have a beer with your friends, your Dad and maybe even a Nieghbor you barely know. You’ve earned it.
Rule #4: Know when to Kick Out Visitors
Okay, you’ve broken bread and thrown back a few tall boys, now it’s time to tell your buddies to get the hell out. Not to be rude here, but there will be times you’ll just want to spend with your wife and new baby. Or, times your child is asleep and you can finally catch some shut-eye, when a well-meaning friend knocks on the door. Remember, you need time for yourself. Your friends can wait to hold your kid. They have the luxury of pissing off your kid or wife (see rule# 1) and running out the door—you don’t. Which brings me to rule #5.
Rule #5: If it Sounds like Bad Advice, It Probably Is.
The internet parents have spoken and you’re doing it all wrong! The moment you get home with your child, the Internet researchers, backseat parents and friends who knew a “guy” will begin flooding your mind with what may be helpful or awful advice. Here’s the test: if it pisses off your kid, your wife (see rule #1), or you, it’s bad advice. Most parental advice given is a one-size-fits-all approach and some is just plain goofy new age internet doctor nonsense. Your kid is not like any other kid; don’t treat him or her as such. Do what works for him or her.
Rule #6: Know When to Walk Away
Your patience will be tested time and time again. Sometimes you need to walk away, regroup and come up with a new plan of attack. Know your baby will be just fine waiting in the crib while she wails her heart out. Trust me, babies are a lot tougher than you think. The biggest threat to your kid is a tired and hyper-frustrated parent. Compose yourself and get your mind right.
Rule #7: There is No Such Thing as “Perfection”
There is no perfect way here, it’s messy. We’ve all had our assumptions on what parenthood would be like. Human children have evolved over millions of years to survive new parents. Although your child is not likely to be eaten by a tiger, we, as parents, worry. We seek the perfect recipe for success. Yet, there isn’t one. It’s a wild ride that takes you to the edges of madness and back into moments of complete awe. It’s the way it is and will be. No amount of preparedness, articles or lists will give you the matrix of successful fatherhood. Do what works. No one truly has it all figured out. ‘Cause if it works, it works. Be wary of experts. Crush fatherhood daily and you won’t suck at it.