I learned a new word today: Atychiphobia – a fear of failure, fear of not being good enough.
Hell of a word don’t you think?
This sums up a lot of parenting worries in a neat little package.
In 2004, I was a mess — high strung, nervous, fearful of the future and so full of self-doubt, I can’t imagine how I managed to get through the day. Still, I was very lucky. My girlfriend at the time had been through this before — while this was my first child nearing the air breathing world, it was her second. She managed to keep me calm for the most part.
So I would like to share 10 things I’ve learned about fatherhood in the last 10 years.
1. The baby is not going to break if you touch it –
First time I held an infant in my lap, I didn’t move a muscle for 20 minutes. After a few seconds with my own daughter, I realized I never wanted to put her down. Proper support of an infant is easy guys — it’s your over-thinking that freaks you out and makes you second guess yourself.
2. Beware the unplanned nap, yours and their’s –
Too much sleep (yes, there actually is such a thing) screws up your nice bedtime schedule and can be Hell to set right. With a cranky child, life and activities may as well grind to a halt since it’s a battle for everything. Instead, do your best to plan around their sleep for a few years. The mischief they can get up to if you doze off is more likely to be messy than dangerous. My girls pulled an unforgettable prank on me that terrified me to my core, a gag made possible by a night-shift-dominant career and a Barbie DVD that I could never stay awake through. It’s a story for another day, but I learned then and there that naps are traps for both sides.
3. It’s not their skills it’s their confidence –
Pad them up, attach flotation devices and slowly pull them away — don’t, let them stay comfortable in a protected bubble. Let go of the hands, unbolt the training wheels and let them fall a bit. You survived it, so will they.
4. The difference between hurt and injured –
They will get hurt. Racing to apply first aid to every bump, bruise and scrape they get will do nothing to help them. Let them get up and come running, that alone I found was a great gauge of how hurt they really are. Blood doesn’t always need a Band Aid. Sometimes a wipe and a kiss, a rinse and a hug is all it takes to send them back out to play. Teach a little toughness — I know, I know, easier said than done. I had to really learn to hold myself back, but in the end I found that my girls were better off
5. Look carefully at the toys you buy –
There is a line of popular girl toys that I shall not name here — they appear in books, DVD’s, games, etc. — and are similar to the iconic blonde plastic doll who lives in a dream house, except this line is dressed like cheap hookers. I strongly dislike that image for my daughters and strenuously avoid that line of toys. Also, keep an eye on the composition of the toy — are you cool with sand, putty, ink, dough or clay being mashed up in your new couch or carpet? Think twice my friends. Go back and read my Christmas article for my personal horror story with toys.
6. Borrow that mask first time dads –
At some point in the labor process, that helpful gas mask they start your baby’s mother off with becomes like putting a Band Aid on a bullet wound. At that point, a nervous father may benefit more from a couple calming breaths from the mask — Heck, I sure as Hell did. Don’t get grabby or overuse it, just a breath or two will help. Also, the medical staff may not be on board here, so be stealthy and respectful. Honestly it was the best pre-birthing advice I received.
7. Sometimes the shower is better than the wipes –
Those little tummies can be just as volatile as our large ones. When those wee bellies explode, it is just be easier to rinse them off in the shower. Save yourself the time and hassle and just hose your child off.
8. Watch out… they are ninjas –
Those toddlers are sneaky and clever — they aren’t just quick, they’re sudden. Placing things up high will eventually back fire as they drag chairs, climb drawers and scale shelves to get what they want. Sleeping? You’ll wake up with bed guests. Need a bathroom break? Watch out for those little fingers under the door and hope they don’t figure out how to pick the lock. For those few glorious minutes of alone time are doomed, until they discover the door may be for their protection as much as anything else. Think you’re enjoying the Walking Dead in peace and quiet… turn around and get ready to try and explain TV makeup.
9. Prepare thy self for the growth –
Are they eating everything in sight? Devouring the contents of the fridge like a biblical plague of locusts? Hope you didn’t just drop a bunch of money on shoes and clothes, as they are about to be too small. Beware: that brand-new gear you bought will most likely not fit by the time the season ends.
10. NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING –
We all make this shit up as we go along. In fact, most of us rely on how we were raised and what ‘experts’ say. Don’t ‘fad jump’ on how to raise the kids, ease up on the micro-managing of a child’s time, teach right and wrong, the golden rule and realize that you will mess up, that’s ok. No parent was ever perfect. Sure you may get a better handle on it as you have more kids, but each kid is different and you will never have all the correct answers and methods. The vast majority of parents do a good job, it’s the ones that don’t who get all the press and accolades. You don’t see every parent out there on the news or in the paper right? Relax, you’re doing a great job too daddy!
Did I miss anything? If you have some more wisdom to add to the list, please let us know below!