you're reading...

Cornelius News

Modern Dad: Babies can escalate quickly

Aug. 28. By Jon Show. Our neighbors, The Crossfit Couple, are expecting their first child this month. I use the word child because they didn’t find out the gender in advance, which is a practice I don’t understand. I nursed a two-month-long anxiety attack until we found out what we were having—a boy the first time and a girl the second time.

Not that the gender really mattered, I just wanted to know. Boys and girls each have upsides and downsides. For example…

Boy upside: As a dad it’s easier to relate to a boy.

Boy downside: As a dad it’s impossible to relate to a boy. 

Girl upside: Unconditional love for her dad.

Girl downside: Eventual unconditional love for other dudes.

It’s been exactly 12 years since we were in the same situation as The Crossfit Couple. Sitting in the crosshairs, just weeks away from the nightmare – sorry, miracle – of birth.

A couple weeks ago, a couple bourbons deep, they asked me for some advice on parenting and I didn’t have any answers. I’ve since changed my mind for no reason. Dads are allowed to do that.

That Escalated Quickly

It feels like there are so many things to hurriedly do in the weeks before the birth of your first child. It’s like unnecessarily sprinting five miles to get to the start line of a 100-mile endurance race.

Clean the house, clean the clothes. Paint a room, build furniture. Sterilize the bottles, buy the diapers. Make a mental note to steal the booger sucker from the hospital. You didn’t know the hospital booger suckers are better than the store bought ones? Trust me, they are.

There’s nothing that can prepare you for what’s coming. Enjoy the last few weeks of independence and solitude because it’s gone for at least the next 8-10 years. I’m not even remotely joking or exaggerating. Seriously.

Just Shut Your Mouth

As an active father I had a lot of opinions about how we took care of our babies. These are opinions that I would not recommend that you have, Mr. Crossfit. I’m not saying you should form different opinions than mine, I’m saying don’t have opinions.

It’s a simple fact that having an opinion is an impediment to a mutual agreement. If someone asks if you want to eat Italian and you say, “Whatever you want,” you will come to a solution quicker than if you responded, “Why do you like Italian you’re doing it all wrong what’s the matter with you here give it to me and I’ll do it.”

Milk Was a Bad Choice

I was never a diaper bag guy. I guess I’m a minimalist anyway but diaper bags just seem excessive. You’re going to Target for 45 minutes not trekking across the Serengeti on an impala hunt.

Besides, who needs a bag when you have cargos? Sure, they look ridiculous but you’re a dad now and they are uniquely designed to handle arm-to-arm combat in the jungle and an afternoon at the park. Left cargo (wipes pack). Right cargo (spare diaper). Hammer loop (clip-on pacifier).

Get multiple pairs of cargos.

You Sit On a Throne Of Lies

Late at night while rocking the baby to sleep you might pull up Instagram and start flipping through amazing pictures of amazing moms whose amazing newborns are doing amazing things, everyone dressed like they’re in an amazing Banana Republic catalog shoot.

It’s all lies and don’t ever forget that. Lies. All lies. Every child will be difficult whether it happens in infancy or the toddler years. And despite what parents post, none of them are doing a perfect job. Perfect parenting isn’t attainable.

Don’t let other people’s lies negatively impact your experience.

Stop What You’re Doing and Listen

As Future Man and the Blonde Bomber began talking I recall constantly being amused by the things they said and did. At least once a week I thought to myself that I needed to start writing those things down so I’d remember them.

But I never wrote any of them down and now I can’t remember a single one of them. Well, I remember one of them. One long car ride two-year-old Future Man started yelling “Jackass” in perfect intonation every time I slammed on the brakes.

You Smell Like Beef and Cheese

Maybe you’ll luck out and get a baby who sleeps through the night after a few weeks. Maybe the baby won’t be colicky. Maybe the baby won’t spit up constantly and you won’t  have to dress him or her in a bib to avoid five outfit changes every day.

Ugh, if I close my eyes I can still smell the stank of Future Man’s spit up.

But if you do end up with an up-all-night puking screamer, take a deep breath and remember the goal of infancy—for both child and parents—is the same as the playoffs: Survive and Advance.

Let’s Be Co-People

There’s no reason to do everything as a family. It’s counterproductive. You’re going from a state of personal independence to baby prison, so what’s the point of locking everyone together in a cell all day long?

Mrs. Crossfiit wants to take the baby on a walk on Saturday? Take 30 minutes and watch TV. Mr. Crossfit wants to give the kid a bath? Go sit on the porch and have a glass of wine.

You’ll both be better parents by taking time to yourselves instead of trying to do everything together. Maybe you’ll miss the kid’s first step but it’s not like a kid takes one step and goes, “Eh, that one’ll do. Don’t really feel like I need to do that again. MA….THE MEATLOAF!”

So there’s my parenting advice in exactly one thousand words, with too many Will Ferrell references tossed in.

After all, you’re looking at a full calendar of nice little Saturdays ahead of you. Going to Home Depot. Buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath & Beyond if you have enough time.

Jon Show lives in Robbins Park with his wife, who he calls “The Mother of Dragons.” Their 10-year-old son is “Future Man” and their 7-year-old daughter is “The Blonde Bomber.” Their dog is actually named Lightning.