Seth Burleigh asked some fellow fathers, “At what point am I no longer a new dad?” The insights surprised him.
Shortly after I started blogging at fortyweekslater, I joined the “Dad Bloggers” group on Facebook, which now has over 500 members. This group has some dads who have been blogging for years and others like me who are still rookies. With Isabel now out of the newborn stage, I recently posed a question to the group, “At what point am I no longer a new dad?”
A few of the funnier responses:
“When you lose that new dad smell.”
Bryan Ferguson @8BbitDads
“If you haven’t been peed on, pooped on and puked on … Repeatedly … You aren’t a real dad yet!”
Dennis Daniel @Manupthebook
If you can predict how many wipes it will take just by the sound of the poo-slosion that just happened.
Scotty Schrier @DiaperDads
At first this blew my mind. And then someone asked jokingly, “New compared to who?”
And the more I thought about it, the more both of these concepts made sense (as much as parenting can make sense).
When you think about it, a new dad is someone learning to care and love for their child as they develop their identity as a father. And as our children grow, the love and care they need will simultaneously be the same and different.
I still consider myself a new dad and have to remind myself that this beautiful little girl is mine forever. I am still forming my identity as her father and Isabel is still forming her identity as my daughter. But does that make my experience any more new than the dad learning to support their toddler? Or the dad explaining playground politics to his new first grader? Or the dad learning to trust their teenager with new responsibilities? Or the dad watching their child go off to college in a new state?
Simply changing the time and space doesn’t make any one experience less new than the other. Each requires adapting and expanding our identities as fathers. And while these concepts of “never” and “forever” still blow my mind, as long as I am learning, and my child is teaching, I’m OK with that, regardless of when or where.
Previously published on fortyweekslater.com