Now that I've been a father for just over a year, I've noted a few things that I was never told. Many people offered some simple advice to me:
- You're going to love it;
- It's a lot of work; and
- Your life's going to change.
Changing diapers can often be a near-death experience. If the sight of doesn't drop you to your knees, then the smell will. Packaging and disposing of the diaper often poses an added problem ... with a kicking and screaming child in the mix. The devices designed to reduce odors have attempted to take off my untrained hand, several times. I would also recommend a full-body biohazard suit for this hazardous duty.
A small child will hurt you. Sometimes badly. He doesn't mean too, but he can. The unexpected toy crashing into knees and shins, the inadvertent sippy cup to the back of the head, or a well-placed kick to the crotch has caused me to realize that he packs a mean punch.
Eating habits will change. Quick meals will have to wait. Some parts of it are amusing ... the orange colored face with food colored hands reaching out wanting me to pick him up. I'm also re-learning to eat many of those foods that I've forgotten about ... green beans and carrots, for example.
Children have more energy than I ever remember having. From the time Patrick's little feet hit the ground in the morning until he reluctantly hit the sack at night, he can create a whole new kind of natural disaster. Remember that I only have one child. He can ransack a room in less than 20 minutes. Our kitchen floor may never be the same again. Food shows up in the strangest forms and in the strangest places I can imagine. If Patrick finds something on the floor and eats it before I can intervene, it gets counted as protein.
Car seat installation requires a master's degree in engineering. Buckles, bolts and straps that would confound Houdini are standard. My solution? I let your Jen handle this one (not really). She has more patience and will at least read the directions, even if she can't understand them.
Children imitate what fathers do, and then repeat them at any given time or place. Enough said.
Regardless of some of the things that I didn't know before Patrick arrived, there is nothing that compares to the joy that he brings to my life. Looking into his eyes as I lay him down for bed at night and feeling the love and affection makes all the dirty diapers in the world tolerable ... well, perhaps not the one with sweet potatoes. There's a mistake I won't be making again any time soon ...