Following is Chapter One from the book Dads Know Best, republished here with permission from the authors.
Be a good dad. While I don’t presume to know the answers, this is what worked for me: Marry the right girl. Surround her with love. The better you treat her, the better your life will be. Soon she becomes the most beautiful of all creatures, a pregnant woman. When the baby comes, sur- round it with love. It will come back to you a hundredfold.
~~ John Fogerty, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Singer-Songwriter
Finding Out the Big News
If you’re reading this book, chances are your significant other has already given you the insane news that you’re going to be a father. If this is how your wife/girlfriend/crazy ex-girlfriend/one-night-stand-that-you-knew-was-a-mistake/baby mama is telling you, we’re sorry in advance! If it’s a husband or boyfriend, we hope the exciting news is the result of a mutual decision and not “Surprise, honey! Look what I picked up while I was out!” If that latter part is the case, put this book down and grab a psychology book because we can’t help you.
Regardless of your situation, if this is the official news about your pending extra mouth to feed, then let us be the first to say…
There are plenty of other ways you could have found out that you’re going to be called “Daddy” because it will actually be true—not because (a) you’re getting a pet and believe you understand how hard parenting is (spoiler alert: you don’t, and the sooner pet-owning, no-real-kid-having “parents” figure this out, the better the world will be) or (b) you have someone who just likes to call you “Daddy,” in which case we recommend never having kids with that person. And while not mandatory, it’s nice to have actually considered the commitment of having a kid before that exciting but awkward huddle over a plastic stick. (If the prospect of all this isn’t at least a little terrifying, please check your pulse because you may be dead and no one has informed you.)
The woman in your life could also find out first and plan some elaborate way to reveal just how much your life is going to change. Forever. Like forever forever. So sweet…
Or maybe, maybe, you pick her up from work one day (because aren’t you just that sort of dude?) and notice that she’s acting a little strange. Something is off. She’s throwing out weird-ass vibes. You’re busy wondering what the hell you did wrong, reliving last night in your head while keeping that brain-dead look you’ve perfected: “I cleaned the dishes? Check. I put the toilet seat down? Check. I cuddled and didn’t dry-hump her leg after she fell asleep? Check. Check!” Nope, you are solid. So you decide to go into interrogation mode.
Always a precarious stance to take, fella.
You’ve got to truly want the truth here. Otherwise, turn up the music and try not to show lip sweat. You casually lob an easy question. Nothing. You go a little deeper and prod with a couple open-ended inquiries. This woman is a fortress! Then some idiot cuts you off, you’ve been in the car too long, you’re feeling the pressure, and you mistakenly drop into CIA black-ops mode, repeatedly asking her why she’s acting weird. Over and over and over again. You finally break her. She blurts out, “I’m pregnant, asshole!” Now, one of two things comes to your mind (right after the nausea): you wish that the dude who cut you off had actually hit your car, or you’re so excited that you damn near rear-end the car riding fifteen miles below the speed limit in the left lane.
No matter how you find out, get ready for the adventure of a lifetime. And it’s just that—a LIFETIME!
Things are Going to Change Around Here
Say goodbye to life as you know it because shit is all different now. Drastically. Late nights out with friends, last-minute trips to Vegas, and the oh-so-cherished Sunday Fundays are about to get shoved into the back of your ride, right next to the car seat you will never truly figure out, the stroller you struggle to open even though it says “one-click,” a baby bag filled with items you couldn’t identify at gunpoint, and for the first few months, your partner. You are now a castaway on a desert island called Dadlife.
There’s good news and good times ahead if you embrace your new back seat companions. There’s a hell of a lot to be excited about, and the pros far outweigh the cons (eventually), but we’re not here to sugarcoat this. Hopefully you picked up this book because you wanted the whole truth and nothing but the truth, because you’re sick of calling bullshit every time you ask one of your dad friends how it really is and they tuck their tail between their legs and squeeze out “great” through clenched teeth.
OH! AND… we would like to apologize on behalf of our marketing company if you got the impression that this was going to be another cute bro-to-bro book on becoming a father, filled with awful dad jokes and sports analogies that even your grandmother wouldn’t find amusing. We did everything in our power to make sure you knew what you were getting into when you picked this book up.
Yes, things are going to change. Read that one more time, and say it out loud: things are going to change in damn near every way. It’s best you start to mentally prepare yourself. Now.
First, put this book down and call every friend who’s willing to stay out all night, and go have yourself a damn party. Blow it out. Of course, don’t be an idiot. You are about to become a parent, and a criminal record just looks bad when trying to get Junior into that coveted last spot at the “best preschool in the county!” But go and have a last sleepless night that doesn’t seem to affect you. Come back Monday, and we can get started.
Don Says: I have a good friend. He liked to go out at all hours. Said he was a night owl. He got his wife pregnant, and I warned him that it will feel like a different kind of tired when there is a baby. He laughed and assured me I was wrong. Now I laugh. Every day when I see him dragging his ass to work, it’s not like a “Man, what an amazing night, we tore it up” sort of tired. It’s more of a “What the fuck did I do? I did this. To me. A strange little thing the size of my forearm controls me. I can’t make it quiet. What the hell is it screaming about? Why can’t I fall back asleep immediately when it finally stops?” THAT sort of sleep. One where you consider making a run for it. You consider a life change. Maybe they’d all be better off without you sort of thing. Then you see a smile (which it isn’t—it’s gas), and you think, “I am making a difference! We’re bonding!” Poor schmuck. I don’t have the heart to tell you you’re wrong. Wait, didn’t I just? Shit…
Welcome back! How was that? Sleep is overrated when you don’t have to care for a kid.
Now we recommend you dial up that buddy who had a kid three years ago, who all the nonparent dudes called a loser for not being able to “hang” (and if he could, it wasn’t past 8:30 p.m., and so one day he just stopped answering your annoying texts), and apologize. You asshole. Beg for forgiveness, and while you’re groveling, ask for any advice he may have because you are about to become him. Please know his smile is wide on the other end of that conversation, even if you can’t detect it.
Fewer friends is inevitable. Especially the single ones. It’ll be hard at first, especially when you can’t remember that you did the same thing to your new dad friends, but you get used to it and even start to sort of feel relieved when they just leave you the fuck alone. All you want is for the baby to stop…everything! Crying, eating, shitting, squirming. Constant “Me! Me! Me!” from this little shit, and you just need a break…
Your friends won’t leave right away. For them, you having a kid is the same as you getting a puppy. It’s cool at first, and they want to hold it, but it doesn’t take long for it to become the attention whore it is, annoying everyone during football games, stopping the movie twelve times, and literally and figuratively surrounding the house in shit.
Enjoy your friends while you can. That’s only the first of the things that become part of your old life.
What’s next? You’ve got plans, lists, goals, right? We are so happy for you. Now let’s collect those all in a neat little pile and sweep them under the rug for a bit—or just throw them away; that’s your call. You can make new lists in eighteen short years.
You may also want to freeze that gym membership (notice we didn’t say cancel it, but you know you best, are you ever going back?) because you can tell yourself all day long that you will find the time, and you may, but getting in the car, packing a bag, parking, blah, blah, blah, is not easy. Get creative with exercise. You do need it for being a dad, so figure it out!
OH! AND… there are many great “at home” training programs you can find on social media, so get to hunting!
A mix of zero sleep, nursing your wife back to life, and an uncontrollable urge to spend every damn second with your child (or your bed) will take priority over gym selfies and lame hashtags. Getting your physical fitness in shouldn’t be a problem, though, and it will be a lot more challenging when you’re constantly doing everything with weight strapped to you, weight with uncontrollable arms and an endless supply of energy and needs.
Actually, on second thought, don’t get rid of that gym membership. Eventually you’ll be desperate to work out with something that doesn’t cry or shit or spit (unless you cry or shit or spit when you work out). The gym will also be there when you’re searching for any excuse to just get away for an hour. In fact, you should be looking for every opportunity to run. We mean step out. Mom needs…anything? Jump on that chance to take a breather, bump into humans without nipple rash, and sit for a minute in the car, just relishing in the silence. Trust us—you need this.
Remember this: if you need time away from home for your “sanity,” so does the woman who had the baby. Don’t be a douche. Whatever time you take, make sure she gets the same treatment (maybe let her go first too), and you stand a chance at not being asked to leave permanently.
Remember that the unbelievably fun, selfish life you’ve lived up until this point is now over. Call it a new chapter or whatever helps you choke down the reality sandwich you’re about to eat because you’ll soon realize that your needs are a distant second to your child’s. Happy hours might be few and far between for a while, but it’s easy to keep a six-pack in the garage right next to the extra diapers and the workout bench with the other kid crap resting nicely on it. Come to think of it, a good idea is to keep that bench clear, and each trip to the garage should include a set of curls, presses, and squats with the reward of a nice cold beer. That’s eight minutes (we’ve timed it) if the child and Mom are napping. When you come back in with fresh kid supplies and a little workout glow, your partner will somehow be attracted to you and appreciative of your thoughtfulness. What a guy! Keep a pack of gum in there, too, and maybe limit the beer to only once a day and do the quick physical activity twice. Look at how strong you’re already getting!
OH! AND… pre-baby is not the time to stop working out. We did not say that. Do not “eat” for the baby along with Mom. (A fallacy by the way. The baby gets all it needs from the nutrients in the mother’s blood. They do not need extra food. Neither do you.) Find the time and make sure that cardio and stretching are big parts of the routine! Chasing a kid around is no joke. Get in the best shape of your life because you can’t comprehend the amount of bending and lifting you are about to do.
The bottom line is that life is not going to be the same, and the sooner you realize it, the easier it’ll be. So buckle in because it’s about to get messy.
Dads Know Best–the first book in The Know Best Books series–is a real-talk book about parenting from unlikely experts John Luzzi and Don Miggs. Dads Know Best pulls back the curtain on the first few years of parenthood, tells new dads all the things their friends and mentors didn’t have the heart to tell them, and reminds grandparents or second-time parents what they signed up for. There’s no sugar-coating. No pandering. No clichés. Just honest advice from two fathers who did everything wrong but ended up getting it right. From navigating epic diaper blowouts, to managing pregnancy cravings, to learning about the wonderful world of nipples, Don Miggs and John Luzzi have you covered. They’ll teach you how to be there for your baby mama and take care of your kid without losing your mind in the process. After all, they know best.
Don and John are veteran songwriters, performers, and producers. Don is also a radio host of the weekly FM show Miggs & Swig. Fueled by the love of his wife and their two boys, Don believes he can do most anything he tries, and they’ll be there when he falls flat on his face. John lives in Seattle with his wife and young son, and has spent most of his years pursuing his passion for music as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Not being able to get through a single book on parenting but still wanting to be a better dad than everyone he knew, he was driven to seek out brutally honest advice on fatherhood. On reflection, he probably should have kept some of this to himself.
This content is sponsored by John Luzzi and Don Miggs.
Read the GMP interview with authors John Luzzi and Don Miggs:
How To Be There for Your Baby Mama and Take Care of Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind in the Process (Interview)
Where can an expectant father turn to get advice? Start here with this interview of Dads Know Best co-authors John Luzzi and Don Miggs.
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