This time last year, I was on the verge of celebrating my first Father’s Day with a baby boy who was not yet a month old. I think that I have learned a lot in this last year, but all I really know is that I have no idea how much is still to come.
I would like to say that I remember every moment of my first Father’s Day, but at this point, all I can say with some certainty is that I probably had slept about 3 hours the night before and that I hadn’t had time to shower. My Father’s Day gift was to leave the house and go to the movies for a couple of hours. I didn’t get to go. Instead, I got to go to the grocery store for about twenty minutes in flip-flops and a t-shirt which most likely had spit up on the shoulder. If you have ever had a newborn, that twenty minutes out of the house was still pretty sweet.
Now, almost a year later, here are some of the things I have learned:
- If you have time to think to yourself “I will only have the diaper off for second, what could happen?,” he has time to pee all over you, him, the wall and the fresh diaper you are holding in your hand.
- Try not to think about how much money you have spent on full bottles of formula which were not drunk or diapers which were soiled 10 seconds after you put them on. It’s like dropping your Slurpee after taking two steps outside of 7-11. It is best to just let it go.
- When you take your baby out for the first time on your own and the car ride seems to soothe him, don’t get cocky and stop at a drive thru for a soda. Hauling a toddler is like the movie “Speed,” if you slow down below 35 miles per hour he will explode.
Going through our pictures, it is hard to believe that our one-year-old is the same little guy whom we paced around the kitchen with for hours at a time just praying that he would fall asleep. He lost the baby peach fuzz sideburns which connected to his eyebrows and now looks like a little man who can frequently be found moving every kitchen chair in the house to the living room. He’s very big into feng shui apparently.
The most exciting part of watching Matthew get bigger, is seeing the ways in which he communicates develop. Although, like most parents, Jen and I were convinced months ago that any burp or grunt was actually a complicated three syllable word. “Did you hear that? I think he just said satellite!”
And I could watch for hours as he sits on the front window sill and “reads” his books. Looking me straight in the eye and dropping mini ravioli on the floor to express his displeasure with dinner? That I could do without. But the book thing is very cute.
No matter how many times it happens, having your child call you Dad just melts your heart. Unless they continue to chant it at three in the morning on a Wednesday. Then it is half heart-melting and half frustrating. Maybe 70/30.
Our lives have changed quite a bit in the last year, but all in all I would rather spend my nights watching Matthew take first steps which look like the ramp up to a drunken stage dive than anything I would be out doing when I was still single.
Jen and I weren’t exactly spending our Friday nights attending gallery openings and regattas before Matthew came along, but most Friday’s we can now be found struggling to stay up until 10 to watch the end of “48 Hours Mystery.” Which has taught me that if you have a numbers of options for the detective’s question, “Would anyone want to see you dead?,” and you aren’t Batman, then some of the suspicion should probably be focused on you.
As a Dad, I know that I am barely out of the permit driver phase . And I know that I still have a lot to learn. But the one piece of unsolicited advice which I would give to a new dad is to learn to be unselfish. It is no longer all about you.
I have had a wonderful example of what to do from my own Dad, and I think the biggest compliment I could ever receive is if someday Matthew can say the same about me.
Happy Father’s Day.