I am so very happy to introduce this blogger to you. Many thanks for Doyin Richards for sharing his work us.
I've been a father for 16 months, and it's mind-boggling how much I've learned in such a short timeframe about life, my daughter, and myself. Here's a Top Ten list that lays it all out from a new dad's perspective.
Number 10: I'm a happily married man, but that doesn't change the fact that I've learned that nothing serves as a better chick magnet than a halfway decent looking guy taking a baby out on a walk. Usually my wife and I are together when we take our daughter out, but on the rare occasions that it's just me and the little one - it becomes quite a social experiment. Women from all walks of life will stop me and say "Awwww! She's adorable!" or "You're so cute for taking your daughter out on a walk!" or "Your wife is so lucky to have you!" My wife quips that nobody ever stops her when she takes the baby out. Memo to single men: Offer to borrow a friend's baby and go to your local mall this weekend - you will return home with digits, trust me. My wife disagrees and says, "Those women probably never saw a black guy take care of a baby before and had no idea how to act. It's similar to the way a child would react when seeing an exotic animal at the zoo. Get over yourself." I've also learned that nobody is better at checking my ego than my half-Japanese, half-white wife - but I knew that after our first date. Did I mention that we're happily married? Good...just checking.
Number 9: I’ve learned that having a daughter makes me say a lot of unmanly things. In the past 24 hours I've probably said the words, "pumpkin,” “snookums,” “honeybun,” and “love bug" more often than I've said them in my entire life before the baby. Not only do I say these things often, but I also say them in a voice that sounds like Pee-Wee Herman moments after getting kicked in the nuts by an NFL Punter. However, when I'm alone with my thoughts, I often fantasize about beating up crackheads, or eating uncooked meat, or wearing Wrangler jeans while playing catch with Brett Favre - or doing anything to feel like a real man again. Is that wrong?
Number 8: I'm kidding in the comment above, because I've learned that nothing makes me feel more like a real man than being an attentive and loving father to my daughter. Not a day passes where we don't laugh together, dance together, and play together. It's so interesting how such a small human being can bring out the best qualities in someone, because my baby does that for me every day.
Number 7: I've learned that babies are so much cooler than adults. They laugh when you do/say something funny, they'll let you know instantly if you do/say something to piss them off, they aren't afraid to show affection towards the people they love, they're the most unintentionally funny people you'll find (and that's the best type of funny, if you ask me), they'll stay up late to drink with you, and they're comfortable enough to fart and poop around you. I don't know about you, but it's hard to find friends who have all of those qualities. You'll never have to worry if they're trying to backstab you, use you, or manipulate you (well, sometimes those l'il buggers can be quite manipulative, but you get my point). As adults we’re often preoccupied with impressing strangers and being cool - but babies couldn’t care less if you’re chubby, drive a beat up car, have morning breath, or tell corny jokes. In other words, even though we think we have a ton of faults, babies will remind us that we’re absolutely perfect just the way we are.
Number 6: I remember while at my first corporate job as a knuckleheaded 22-year old college graduate, an older lady (and by "older," I mean mid-30s) in the cubicle next to me spent her first week back from maternity leave in tears. The whole time I heard her sobbing, I thought to myself that she must nuts. I arrogantly believed that the only time you should cry over your kids is if they're dead, dying, or kidnapped. Wouldn't she want to get away from her baby for a few hours and do some “real work" for Pete’s sake?? When we had a discussion a few weeks later, she put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Just wait until you have a baby. You'll spend a lot of time in tears when you have to go back to work, trust me." I chuckled and responded, "All due respect, but there's no way that I'm going to cry over a kid. I'll be happy to get back to work." Fast forward 14 years later, and I was the "older" mid-30s guy heading back to work after paternity leave - and you guessed it - I was a sobbing mess of a man…for two weeks. Even though I hadn't talked to this woman in years, I looked her up on Facebook and sent her a message that only said, "You were right about the baby thing." She wrote back an hour later and said, "And I bet you cried for longer than a week, didn't you?" Damn. To recap, I learned three things here:
- I was a complete idiot when I was in my 20’s.
- I'll cry over my baby when she's perfectly healthy, and for no other reason than I just miss the hell out of her whenever she's not around me.
- Mothers are always right. Always.
Number 5: Now that I have a baby, I’ve learned that there’s hardly any time or energy to partake in the ancillary activities that I used to enjoy. For example, in the past three weeks I’ve turned on my PlayStation as many times as I’ve turned on my wife. And for those of you keeping score at home, that number is zero.
Number 4: I've learned that whenever I worry that I'm not doing a good enough job as a father, it probably means I'm doing a damn good job.
Number 3: About six months ago, I made sure nobody was around and I took a quick swig of my wife's breast milk that she left in the fridge. I learned that it tastes like sunshine and happiness topped with melted sugar.
Number 2: As a sports loving, beer drinking man – I didn’t quite know what to expect when I found out that we were pregnant with a girl. Now that she’s here, I’ve learned that raising a daughter is unbelievably awesome. I had no clue that I’d have so much fun dressing my daughter up in Hello Kitty gear, doing her hair, watching Dora the Explorer, and playing Patty Cake together. (must…fight…urge…to…beat up…crackheads)
Number 1: I've learned that a different type of love exists. I love my wife to death, and I love my family and friends, but the love I have for my baby girl is unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's what I call "LCL" (life-changing love). For example, LCL is what prevents me from succumbing to the cravings for a Burger King double cheeseburger because I'm afraid I could stroke out before she enters high school. LCL is what makes me not stress the small stuff - because at the end of the day, my daughter's health, safety, and happiness are all that really matters. LCL is what has transformed me into a happier, kinder, and more selfless man than I ever was before. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for that.
In closing, I'm not sure what else I'll learn as I dive deeper into parenthood; however, a lot of parents tell me, “Just wait. You’ll learn to love your daughter even more than you do now once she gets older.” I always say, “All due respect, but there’s no way that I can love my daughter any more than I do right now.”
Somewhere there’s a mother in a cubicle laughing…