Six Surprises for New Dads
- You’ve just been grounded. Hobbies, social outings, and the weekly boy’s night out are officially on hold. You have two things at home that will keep you there like a lodestone: a cute little baby, and an exhausted mom who needs help. Start making your apologies now, because you won’t be seeing a movie, your friends, or your golf clubs for some time. Don’t feel too badly about being grounded, though – in about 13 or 14 years, you’ll be able to return the favor.
- You probably lost the car, too. A car is a serious thing for most of us, and keeping it both manly and immaculate is a favorite obsession. That was before the baby came. Now, you’ll need a car seat so that baby can ride safely. Diaper bags, discarded toys, and other baby gear will soon take over the back seat. And when there’s a baby on board, you’ll likely find yourself paying more attention to rules of the road (such as speed limits), which probably isn’t a bad thing.
- Oh, you live in a trendy downtown neighborhood? Not for long. In the city where I live, there’s a certain rite of passage for those who return after college and take up work: you grew up in the county, so you move to a “cool” downtown area just to push the envelope. You know, a place with high rent, street parking only, and ready access to the night life. The moment you become a father, that fancy apartment or condo’s days are numbered. You’ll be thinking about backyards, safe streets, and good schools. Might as well start packing.
- There’s no such thing as too much babyproofing. If you think a couple of outlet covers and drawer latches are enough babyproofing for the home, you’ll have a rude awakening when your baby starts crawling. They get into literally everything: the pantry, the toilet, the coat closet, the stack of papers you left out. Ironically, the less you’d like your baby playing with something, the more likely he or she is to prefer it above all toys. Nothing is safe, not your laptop, your dinner plate, or your prized television.
- Babies are expensive. Most fathers-to-be have some idea of this going in: you know you’ll need some baby gear, diapers, clothes, that sort of thing. What’s astonishing is just how expensive these things are, or how much you’ll need. Diapers alone can cost $50-100 per month, and that infant formula practically costs its weight in gold. Worse, your baby will burn through what you buy like the end of the world is coming: food and diapers will be consumed at increasing rates, clothes will be rapidly outgrown, and fancy new sources of baby entertainment like swings and bouncers will quickly grow dull to them. At some point, you’ll have trouble remembering the last time you spent a dollar on something for yourself.
- Yes, your life will change. To something better! Having a child is one of those experiences you can never truly understand without doing. There are surprises, and there are challenges, but the joys of having a baby in your life overshadow these a dozen times over. You’ve helped make a little person, and through him or her, you get to experience everything again: learning to move, to eat, to talk, to swim, anything. Every place and thing you know will be new to them. And every joke gets to be told for the very first time! You might put enough effort into this vicarious enjoyment that you feel like you’ve moved out of the spotlight. You’re just a backdrop, now, to the story of your baby’s life. And you shouldn’t mind it, because every story needs a hero. And guess what? You’re him.