So its been more than a month since I became a father.
People always say things like, “A month! Can you believe it’s been that long?” To which I reply, “Yes, I can. My internal clock isn’t screwed up like yours. Maybe you should get that checked out.” But there are some things about being a father that have taken me by surprise.
For one thing I didn’t really have any way of understanding exactly how much I was going to love this kid. Now that might sound stupid to you, but that’s probably because you either don’t have a child or you are a sociopath. As a cynic I’m aware that when I look at him sleeping with his arms up above his head and think, “That may be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” that there’s a complex chemical process going on in my brain to make me feel that way, but as a human being I don’t care. He’s special. He’s awesome. And he’s way better than your kid.
The other day, he smiled for the first time. Not one of those, “I’m trying to poop,” kind of tight-lipped grimaces, but an full-on open-mouthed beaming grin. According to my mother he giggled the other day when we left him with her for a few hours, but I wasn’t there to hear it so it doesn’t count.
The other thing I didn’t anticipate…well it’s really something I did anticipate that didn’t come to pass. Because so far this parenting things is not that hard. I mean, it has its occasional difficulties, and the quality of our sleep isn’t all that great yet, but still, not quite the horrific sleep-deprived slog I was expecting.
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but it seems like parenthood is put up on this pedestal with the words, “Hardest Thing EVAR” engraved at its base. And so far that hasn’t been the case for me.
Now you’re probably saying, “But wait until he hits the terrible twos, or worse yet, his teenage years.”
And I haven’t been through that yet, so I can’t speak about it with authority, but I believe I can say that parenting is a lot easier if you see it as an opportunity. Some parents I’ve observed seem like they hate their kids, like they’re a nuisance just to have around. And I really believe it isn’t because their kids are so terrible (although they may become so with parents like this) but because the parents aren’t making the effort to enjoy spending time with them.
Sure, sometimes it can be inconvenient to have AJ around. Yes, there are things that aren’t as easy now that we have to factor him into or logistical calculations. BUT. It’s also a great joy to see him grow a little at a time, to hold him in your hands and have him look back at you with his huge baby eyes.
What I’m trying to say, I think, is that it’s important to realize that as parents we’ve gained far more than we’ve lost.
And of course, I’m sure I’ll have lots more surprises in store for me in my future. I don’t pretend to know it all, and I’m certain I never will. But I’m absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to learn and grow a little more every day.