When you tell people that you have a baby on the way, there is no shortage of advice offered, whether you like it or not. And unfortunately, words of wisdom tend to cast a dark shadow on the first few years of parenthood. “Enjoy your sleep now because you won’t get any for the next 5 years”, or “I hope you’ve saved up because kids will break the bank”. These types of remarks, although carrying some truth, really didn’t help when I was preparing for the arrival of my child.
Now that I’m 2 years into the journey of fatherhood, I thought I’d share a few observations I’ve noticed that would have been nice to know beforehand.
- Your left bicep will become massive! Have you ever seen the film “Lady in the Water”? (It wasn’t exactly a blockbuster hit). If you have, you may remember the character who only worked out one arm. As a Dad, I feel a lot like that guy since I am constantly carrying around a weight that gets perpetually heavier. “Why don’t you just switch arms from time to time?” you may ask. Believe me, the thought is always there. But for some reason, you may find one arm becomes dominant until the other is nearly forgotten.
- Inhibitions seem to disappear. If you’re like me and prefer to poop behind the comfort of a closed door, you will get over the shyness very quickly. You know you’ve become truly uninhibited when you have a bowel movement with your child resting their chin on your knee, staring up into your eyes saying “Daddy go poop!”
- You become a speed-reader. Many parents adopt a bedtime routine of reading a story to their little ones. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is great. But the reality of story time is a bit different from what you envision. As your child flips through the pages like a hurricane, you frantically try to spit out the blurred words to make a coherent story. Fret not, though. Before long your speed-reading skills will allow you to process words on a page lightning fast!
- Hot showers are only for special occasions. With a baby glued to your leg, luke-warm showers are the only possibility. Perhaps on your birthday, or Father’s Day, your partner will keep your child occupied long enough for you to shower alone so you can crank the heat as much as you want.
- You’ll appreciate the beauty of a sunrise. Or you’ll hate it. Either way, you’ll likely be seeing lots of them. A child’s ability to wake up just minutes before the sun breaks the horizon is uncanny.
- Pre-chewed food will become a delicacy for you. If you’re like me, you’ll take special care in preparing only the cleanest, healthiest foods for your little one (when they begin eating solids). But this also means you’ll be spending more money on this delicious food, so you won’t want any to go to waste. No waste means eating food your child won’t. And the unfortunate truth is your child will spend plenty of time chewing food and spitting it on the floor over and over again, almost tauntingly. You’ll learn to love the special flavours your child’s saliva and kitchen floor gives your meals.
- Your nail-biting habit will vanish! After changing a few poopy diapers, you may notice a few stray bits get stuck under your nails (you may laugh, but if you cloth diaper, you know what I mean). It only takes 1 or 2 occurrences of poop from your nails touching your tongue before you break the habit for good.
- Prepare for a weekly bloody nose. It’s not what you’re thinking. You child is not likely to be able to punch you in the nose hard enough to break the blood vessels until they are a bit older. However, their tiny, razor-sharp finger nails will wander up your nostrils all the time, sometimes accidentally and sometimes with intention, and blood is sure to follow.
- Buy yourself new underwear before your baby is born. You’ll be so busy and tired that you will inevitably forget to change your tighty-whities from time to time (sometimes for multiple days at a time). If you’re going to be wearing the same underwear for a couple days in a row, they might as well be nice and new!
- You’ll never be more in love. The love for a child you bring into the world is an indescribable feeling. I promise you will have never experienced anything like it. And all the late nights, early mornings, cold showers, bloody noses, poopy nails, and everything else that will come along, will be quickly forgotten when your baby looks up at you, bats her eyelids and says “Daddy, I love you to Jupiter”.
What are some other things you wish you had know before becoming a parent? I’d love to hear!