There’s a first time for everything. Except when it’s your second time.
I have a three week-old baby. He’s my second-born, my first-born just turned two. I haven’t fully wrapped my brain around being a dad and what that means and already the hand-me-downs are well, being handed down. We’re looking into contraception immediately.
Not that I wouldn’t want another one, it’s not for me to say. Maybe just not right now. Or a year from now. We should probably fill up the coffers before even thinking about another one. If it ever even gets there. And even then, it’d probably do well to remind myself just how hard parenthood is.
Of course it’s beautiful, of course it’s great, of course it’s an incredible blessing, and I’m not blind to the fact that there are so many great people out there who still wish they could be parents but for one reason or another, still aren’t. I get that.
But you have no idea how hard it is.
When I became a dad, it was all flowers and rainbows, and just as I was about to pick the flowers and make a nice bouquet out of it, the reality of it all landed on me like an elephant absent-mindedly stepping on my foot. There’s just no way of pulling your foot from under that. And as I carried my baby for the first time my thoughts ran over and over like a ticker-tape scrolling below the face of Christaine Amanpour on CNN: Oh my god what did I do.
By the time my second baby had been born, I wasn’t so anxiety-filled. This time around, I was able to actually enjoy and take in the whole experience. We were happy and relieved and I thought that I had finally been able to side-step the elephant. Eventually though, that elephant’s foot would find it’s way to crush me in my sleep. Usually from 2 AM to 5.
Since this was our second baby, we knew what to expect. But just because you know, doesn’t make it any easier. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I consider myself a pretty patient dude. But when you lack sleep and your arms feel like they’re gonna break, and you’ve been humming the same lullaby all night, that patience runs out pretty quick. And when you run out? You just have to find more.
Where you find it is up to you. I found mine in a pack of Winston Lights. It’s been years since I bought cigarettes but the other day I caved in because I was tired and frustrated beyond my ability to say no. I used to smoke back when I was in college, back when it was cool. Then I worked at a really stressful job, so I kept smoking. But despite the dementia of work, I had managed to quit and stayed nicotine-less for many years. I’d have a stick or two here and there but only as a social smoker. Then in just three weeks, my baby had broken me and I sucked on that cig like there was no tomorrow.
Most people quit smoking when they have a baby. Who the hell are these people???
I want to be involved in the lives of my babies. I want to be their dad. I want them to run to me when they have a problem or when they have some little joy they want to share. I want them to fall asleep on my arms, I want them to stop crying. I want to be their hero. To be the dad I want to be is going to be the hardest thing I will ever do in my entire life.
Welcome to the Fatherland.