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June 19, 2005

Some Father’s Day Observations from a Relatively New Father

I realize that Father's Day is just a marketing ploy, like Valentine's Day, or Yom Kippur, but I thought it might be nice to jot down a few thoughts I've had since the birth of my nearly one-year-old son.

I once joked that fatherhood is the hardest, least-rewarding thing I've ever done. It was just a joke, although for while there it was also true. But things really do change once your child starts to develop a personality and an ear-shattering shriek.

I've learned not to be disappointed that my eleven-month-old doesn’t “get” Motorhead. There’s time for everything. I have much to share.

It’s a cliché, but after witnessing my wife’s labor I really did understand how much stronger women are than men. And when I saw my son’s pinched face pop out, his mouth already twisted in a scream, I understood why we’re wired to forget the first few years of life. But, of course, there’s always a video camera to negate nature’s decision to delete.

Baby time is a very different reality. If I’m the one with our son I need to stay in baby time. Anything that needs to get done must get done in baby time, and most things will not get done. It can be magical, too, though hard to explain. It’s like taking mushrooms that way. I can spend a whole day with him and go through so many feelings and discoveries alongside him, but if you ask me what we did all I can say, is, “We went to the park.”

There are so many books about sleeping, about feeding, about almost everything to do with birth and early childhood. I’m glad my wife read them.

But, really, there are all these theories and experts and it can be somewhat paralyzing, but we’ve really come to terms with our approach. When somebody asks me our parenting philosophy, I reply confidently: “It’s parent-led but child-directed. We place a heavy emphasis on a strictly enforced schedule that changes daily. We are fierce proponents of breast-feeding, but not human breasts.” I guess we don’t really have a philosophy. We have a child.

When my wife and I were contemplating having a baby I asked my father how he and my mother came to the decision. His reply was, “What decision?” He didn’t mean I was an accident so much that couples of his generation didn’t agonize over the question. They just had the kids. It’s what you did. At the time, I envied the clarity, but now I’m grateful for all the hemming and hawing. When I look at my son, I see somebody with a lot of thought put into him. He was years in the making.

There is something beautiful, if a little disturbing, about waking in the middle of the night to find your wife sniffing your underwear. Some people walk in their sleep, others, often new mothers, mistake their husbands for their infant sons and check to see if they need a new diaper. It’s all part of the miracle of life. My job is to make sure I don’t, in fact, need a new diaper.

by sam lipsyte at 11:20 AM
in daddy world | parenting


Have you tried Hawkwind? Maybe he'd go for that...

comment by rebecca at June 20, 2005 2:56 PM

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