As with most of my posts, I’ll begin with a preface. I want to make clear that I always like to end on a high note, and in this TWO part post, I’m saving the pros for last.
I remember a time when my wife and I could just go to a bar and stay up as late as we could. Spending money frivolously on items that we didn’t need, or even using credit cards to spend money we didn’t really have. It seemed like a weekly routine: Go to work Monday-Friday, and spend the money you just made on the weekends. Groceries consisted of whatever we wanted to make/order, whether it be shrimp, steak, or takeout. Being newly weds at the time, our sex life was nothing short of amazing, no matter the time of day or night we knew we could be intimate with one another. Those we’re the days, and I loved every minute of it.
I always wanted a child. We just passed our first year of marriage when the relatives brought on the usual barrage of questions: “So when am I going to get a grand-daughter?”, “Is there anything in the oven yet?”, or my favorite “If I remember right, your wife’s dress was more beige than white…were you already working on a niece for me?” The onslaught continued until one day we got the good news… we were expecting!
Fast forward 17 months and that brings us to where we are today. I now have a gorgeous wife and a beautiful daughter. My life has changed indefinably and I couldn’t feel more complete. Now that my daughter is 8 months old, I have had time to reflect on how my life has changed since having her. I wish I could say that it all has been sunshine and rainbows, but it hasn’t. There’s a side that is only ever spoken of at bachelor pads and wherever there is a negative pregnancy test: The downside of having a child.
I’ll start with the biggest and most obvious. I won’t spend a lot of time on it because everyone already knows what it is: Sex Life. Consider it gone! Between work, late nights, breastfeeding, stress, hormone changes and family wanting to see the baby, the mere idea of sex is a rarity, let alone an action. Don’t get me wrong, it happens, but to a woman your needs have now become second priority–as they should be. I plan to touch on this later, but a good book to read is called “40 beads” by Carolyn Evans.
The next one is money. Even if you have planned for a baby the cost can be cumbersome. My wife and I both wanted a baby, we had a 3 month difference in when we wanted to have it. We were ready emotionally and spiritually…just not financially. Reality hit us hard. For the first 2 months we were borrowing from friends and family, struggling to get diapers and wipes, all while I picked up overtime and another job–it was tough. It wasn’t until we started making a budget that we realized that we had the money to pay bills and get the things taken care of but we hadn’t changed our life style. We were still eating shrimp and steak and ordering takeout! We started making a list and grocery shopping. I believe it was at that point that it hit me, “I’m a dad!”. I know my reaction time isn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t until I made those sacrifices that I made the transition from a consumer to a provider. It’s something I reflect and pride myself on to this day.
The last one I wanted to bring up doesn’t get a lot of hype, but I feel it’s important to discuss: Monotony. That’s right, being a parent–at least a first time parent is boring. “How can it be boring” you might ask. Simple. I love dogs, so much that I convinced myself that a milestone to being a great parent is to successfully raise a dog. After all, you teach a dog, play with a dog, and discipline a dog. Same thing right–wrong. The theory fails when you realize that all 3 of the aforementioned tasks can be completed in a matter of weeks. Puppies learn faster than babies, that’s just the way it is. So it begins that each and everyday, you go to work, come home, help out with the house and spend time with you child. Every day. The same thing. And everyday your child is doing the same thing, or at least, the progress happens so slow that you don’t notice it. Believe me when I say I love my daughter more than anything, I’ve read many books on parenting and fatherhood (6 to be exact) and they make it seem like one day they’re wobbling their head, and the next they’re talking back to you in the check out line. Unfortunately it’s not as progressive as flipping pages in a book. My daughter was 8 months before she started crawling. That means for 8 months I went to work, came home, helped out with the house, and watched as my daughter couldn’t move anywhere. Before reading on, please take a moment to imagine that process if you’re not already familiar with it: For 8 months we sat her on the floor, put toys in front of her, gave her time and energy, only to see the fruits of our labor over half a year later.
The beautiful thing is when that day finally comes it’s miraculous!
As my wife would say, “Así es la vida!”–Tha’ts life. From the obvious, to the taboo. Parenting can be an amazing journey, so long as you remember knowledge and preparation are key. I hope you follow along as next time I flip the coin and discuss the pros of being a parent–specifically a father!