I was recently having a conversation with my friend, and he asked me a question. To me, it was a straightforward question, but my reply took him by surprise.
He asked me, “Suppose you could go back in time; what would you do differently as a father?”
I replied, “EVERYTHING.”
I was being honest. I don’t know why he felt like I asked for one of his kidneys (or both)!
He said, “You have done a good job raising your kids, then why this cynicism?”
“Yes, you see it that way because I haven’t plastered ‘FATHERHOOD IS STRESSFUL AF’ on my head.” You only see it from a distance.
You’re not here, about to lose your shit because you haven’t slept for two nights. You’re not here constantly calculating the number of diapers your kid will shit in the next month. You don’t always forget how much formula goes into a 3 oz bottle.
This what being a father is like.
So when I say, “give me a second time, and I’d do daddying (a subtle hint at dying) differently,” it’s because now I know what I didn’t know before.”
All I that they told me was, “get in there, it’s a tad hard, but you’d get hold of it, and it’ll pass.”
I hope someone would have told me:
It’s a no–nonsense business
Honestly, I knew that I had to pull up my socks since I was a father, but I had no idea that I have to pull them all the way up my thighs!
Plain and simple: Fatherhood is less fun and more responsibility. The best parents are those who admit they make mistakes and keep trying to be better parents.
There is no other way around it. Parenting is no utopia, nor is it a perpetual headache. So, if you know what exactly are you getting into, you can brace yourself for what is to come.
Save a lot
When I had the first of my two kids, I went broke! I had a financial plan in place, but the little kid threw it so far off the course that I was left bewitched.
I didn’t know that I had to have such a massive financial cover to raise a kid. I mean, after all, it’s just a k.i.d.
But, damn! Childcare is expensive—babysitters, daycare, preschool, baby food, toys, vaccines, diapers, accessories, clothes, car, expenses… THE LIST NEVER ENDS!
If I had the realistic idea about how much is it gonna cost, I would have probably saved some more. I had put a brake on my outings, had dined in a less lavish restaurant, and saved more dimes than I did.
My advice to the expecting dads: save whatever you can. If you think $1000 is enough, don’t stop. No! Save $1200.
($1200 is used metaphorically. You can wish taking care of a baby was this cheap – it isn’t).
My social circle will be cut down
When you become a dad, you have to leave a lot of things behind (yes, laziness and carelessness are two of them). But, another thing that gets left behind are your child-less friends.
After becoming a dad, my social circle shrank! Now, I had new friends, and there was one thing common among us: our receding hairline. Is it due to the stress of fatherhood or due to any other reason is anyone’s guess.
My friends who are yet to become fathers can’t tolerate me whining about my lack of sleep, or they don’t want to listen to how fucking expensive diapers have become. They absolutely don’t want me talking about how everything in my life now is about this little munchkin.
So, if you are about to become a dad, keep in mind that you might lose a friend or two (or more). You will befriend fellow parents who are in the same boat. They will be empathetic to you because they are also going through the same shit.
Learn to love yourself
You remember when you used to read “love thy self” in philosophy books, and you were like, “Nah! I am happy without it.”?
Wait till you become a father. You will be imploring them to help you love yourself.
The truth is that when you become a father, everything in your life changes. There is a new member who you love more than yourself, who you care for more than anything else in the world, whom you want to give everything.
Then, there is your wife, who has just brought a new life in this world. A hell lot has changed for her as well, and she has to take care of the baby too. So naturally, she deserves some comfort and attention.
In all this, fathers fall into the backdrop. You’ll see that it will all be about the baby and the mother and whatever is there in between, but not you!
It won’t be long before you realize it. You’ll be like, “Hello, baby’s father here. How about some appreciation, some credit?” But, the world will be: “Nope, not you!”
In this case, you’ll be left to love yourself. When I found myself gulped in loneliness, I tried to cheer myself. I had imaginary friends (no, I wasn’t a psycho) whom I used to talk to.
I couldn’t talk to my wife, because why would I? Against my one complaint, she can easily list ten of hers (and all damn legit!). So, the occasional grumblings that I had, I used to convey them to my imaginary friends.
It was my way of feeling loved and accompanied. Once you start doing these little things for yourself, you’d learn how important they are. It also helped bring positivity to my mood.
So, find your ways to love yourself. Whatever works for you, do it! Nothing is off the table. Once you’re less grumpy, you can bring positive value to the relationship.
So, when I say, “give me a chance to be a daddy again, and I would do it differently,” I do so for some good reasons. Yes, people think that I am doing a decent job as a father, but that’s not the whole picture.
I am in that picture too if anyone wants to see that!
Dads-to-be, keep in mind that there’s a lot more to fatherhood than the usual stuff they tell you. It’s crazy. You’d only know once you’re in that role.