Being a parent is nothing like I had imagined it would be. Honestly, it's way more wonderful, terrifying, and gross than I expected. And this was after almost 30 years of "practice," with dolls and babysitting clients. After all, in our culture women are expected to procreate and, as a result, are handed dolls and toy kitchens at birth. Men, on the other hand, aren't, and often don't have as much practice or time to consider parenthood. Since hindsight is 20/20, I asked some some dads to share the one thing they wish they knew before becoming fathers, and I was honestly surprised by their answers.
More than a few of the following gentlemen got a bit emotional when they talked about what being a parent means to them. They had no idea how much they could love a tiny person. Others had no idea what babies were actually like, including how boring they are, but also how loud they can be and how hard it is to not know how to soothe them when they cry. Most had no idea how to remain calm and not allow yourself to panic when you feel like you have no idea what you are doing. In other words, the struggle is real, my friends, and it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman. If you're a parent, sh*t gets real super quick.
If you are about to become a dad or know someone who is, read on for some silly, sappy, and sage-like advice from some dads who've been there. My advice, though? Be sure to grab some tissues before you settle in. And if you have sons, it might be time to buy them a doll (if you haven't already) and teach them a few things about parenthood. They just might thank you some day.
"I wish I knew that you can never have enough of anything. From diapers, [pacifiers], and clothes to hugs, quality time, and baby giggles. You can never have enough."
"That it can be lonely when your wife is at work. None of my friends want to meet up for lunch or come over to hang out like my wife's friends do. It's just me and the girls."
"I wouldn't have waited so late. I'm a little old. I wish I could've done it in my late 20s, but I wasn't set up for it. But strictly speaking from an energy stand point. After 30, energy goes down."
"The feeling you experience with your firstborn will be unlike any other blissful feeling ever experienced before. Also, that the baby is going to be a sensitive potato for the first six months, leaving you feeling useless. After that, the real bonding and fun begins."
"I wish I known how to keep my cool when the baby was crying. I would freak out not knowing what was wrong with her. Now I know that sometimes babies just cry, and even though my daughter cried a lot, because she had sensory processing issues, l should have kept my cool and supported my wife emotionally instead of freaking out that something is wrong, and thinking that we were screwed."
"To take the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy more seriously. In other words: don't panic."
"Cherish all of it. Time goes too fast."
"I'm not sure that this the most or only thing that I wish I would have known, but it is certainly one of them. I didn't learn it until I was single again, and a single parent, and it was taught to me by a dog. We are always teaching. It's pretty easy to wake up some morning, and 'decide' that you are going to focus on teaching some lesson over the next couple of days — one that you think someone needs to learn, but it's much more of an eye opener, when you realize that only 'sometimes' do we teach by intent. The rest of the time we are teaching by example, and that old saying about 'do as I say, not as I do' doesn't work."
"I had a boss who had a saying: 'wherever you are, be all there.' That had the ring of a truth, but only half-way. The trick is, being in the place where you are needed and not just the place you feel comfortable or competent. Caring is a skill, and all skills take practice. Becoming a good father takes a willingness to keep trying, even when you make mistakes. They deserve a father who keeps trying."
"How much freaking patience is required."
"That commercials would now make me weep."
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