You’ll never be the same man again (but it’s going to be wonderful to go through that change).
If your partner is expecting your first child and you find yourself on the brink of plunging into fatherhood, you might understandably be a little nervous! Maybe you see other guys around you with their kids and wonder just how they do it, balancing the demands of their jobs with the demands of being a dad. And you might be looking around for advice that can help you as you take on this new and important phase of your life.
Here are some things to consider as you wait for the birth of your child.
You Will Never be “Ready” to be a Dad
There are a ton of classes out there for parents to learn every skill from diapering to child-proofing the house to learning infant CPR. And these classes are great and can come in handy for when the baby is actually born. But none of these classes will prepare you entirely for the amazing and life-shattering experience of actually bringing another human being into the world. And as many classes as you take or books that you read, you will never be fully prepared for what it is like to have in your hands another human being that is entirely dependent upon you and your partner. So be ready for the fact that you will not be ready at all.
You Will Never be Perfect
That might sound like criticism, but it’s not. In fact, it is amazingly liberating and will free you to actually enjoy the experience of being a parent instead of worrying that you are going to damage your child for life (this is actually a very common fear!). The fact is, as much as you try to avoid doing so, you will make mistakes in raising your child – and sometimes you will not realize that mistakes have been made until years later, when you look back on your early experiences. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t be a good parent, and as long as you can show your child a lot of love and help prepare them as much as you can for their own adulthood, you will be doing a pretty good job.
You Will Never Function on a Full Night’s Sleep Again
If you’re the kind of guy who likes to get a full eight hours’ sleep – and nine if you can manage it – you may be wondering just how you are going to survive those midnight feedings, early morning diaper changes, and all the late-night sitting up during childhood fevers and stomach flus. Don’t worry. You just do it. Like doctors and college students, you simply learn to live without a full night’s sleep. Mr. Coffee will become your new best friend. And you will be amazed at how much you can do on just a few interrupted hours’ of shut-eye.
You Will Never Cease to be Amazed by Your Child
If you’re like most dads, you probably already have a vision of what you imagine your child is going to be like, not only as a baby but as they mature and grow into childhood and even adulthood. While this is a natural thing to do – and something that probably every parent does – it is also good to know that the child in your mind does not really exist and that the child you actually wind up with will likely be entirely different. But this is part of the great adventure of parenthood, the fact that you will never cease to be amazed by what your child can do – by what they say, by how they react to things.
You Will Never Be the Same Man Again
The first time you hold your new baby in your arms and look down at the tiny, squawling, red-faced little person that you and your partner have made together, it feels like your whole world is shifting on its axis and while you used to orbit around the sun, you now orbit around your new baby. It is a milestone in your life unlike any other and one thing that you realize, right away, is that your life will never be the same again.
These are thoughts that I have for fathers-to-be, since I remember what it was like when I was one myself, from the moment my wife told me she was pregnant until the moment I first saw my baby moving on the ultrasound to when I first held him after birth: the mixture of terror and joy and wonder is completely and utterly unique and while it is probably a universal thing–something that every parent feels when they become a parent–it is also completely intimate and personal and like no other experience I have ever lived through.
Photo: Getty Images
Read Dr. Brian Wu every week here on The Good Men Project!
And thank you for sharing this!