Dear Brand-New Dad,
You don’t know me, but I saw you with your wife and brand new baby daughter last week. I watched as you ever-so-gently pulled back the blanket from the front of the baby carrier to show her off to a stranger in that crowded, germ-y clinic lobby and saw the mixture of pride and sheer terror on your handsome, boyish face. I heard you tell the young mom with the little girl in her arms in front of you that your daughter was a mere six days old. You looked a bit dazed at the prospect of being a father to this small princess girl. To this I say…
Dude. Get used to it. You’re going to be in a daze for at least the next twenty years.
See, here’s the thing. You don’t know it yet, but the sleeplessness and spitting up and diapers? That stuff you think is really tough because you’re a newbie? The midnight feedings and 3 a.m. wake up calls? Those evenings when you come home from work only to be handed a howling, sticky, human so that your wife gets ten minutes where she isn’t in charge of keeping it dry, and fed, and well…alive? Those days that seem like they are never going to end?
Faster than you can imagine. Faster than you can possibly know.
I wanted to tell you that you are embarking on an amazing journey. That little girl-child the two of you made? She is going to grow up fast. Too fast. At night, if you listen carefully you will hear her growing, like corn. Your house will be cluttered with a lot of pink plastic crap for the next ten years or so and by the time she’s in junior high, you will be able to recite the lyrics to every song ever sung by a Disney princess. She will be your Princess Girl. You will be her prince. There will be ballet lessons or maybe hockey practice, and braces to pay for, too.
Wait! Did I mention that there will be tears?
Yours. Your wife’s. Oh, and hers. Copious amounts of tears.
She will spend her adolescence trying to decide which one of you she likes the best. This will change constantly, and will depend entirely upon which of the two of you she is least embarrassed by at any given moment. Don’t take it personally. In time, she will realize that you are still worthy of her affections.
After all, she will need a knight in shining armor, one who can teach her to drive a stick, check her oil, and parallel park. When she gets dressed for the prom, she’ll need you to tell her she looks pretty and keep your wits about you instead of slaying the dragon of a prom date who shows up at your door in a rented tux. While she will continually question your sense of fashion in those years, she’ll still want you in a lot of pictures.
So, change your shirt and smile.
This Princess Girl will fall in, and out, of love a lot. With Dragons and Dwarfs, and maybe a couple of Dipsticks, too. If you’re lucky, they will all vanish in the mist long before she asks you to pay for a wedding.
You’ll live through all of it. I promise.
Just remember this. Whether she’s a week old, a year old, or ten, or twenty… she was your princess first. So be brave and strong and true. Be tender and present, young Sir.
Your adventure together is just beginning.
2 Replies to “To the young father with the baby carrier…”
Such honesty, and yes, always be present. Thank you for your words, from a mother and a G’ma, who also has seen this same brand new dad. May I add, that being present and showing up has to be on the child’s terms, not the parent’s. That is where so many young, new moms and dads don’t get it. It is such a joy, but also a daunting task to raise a wee one. I hope this young father does a good job, and I hope he has good family and friends to help him along the way.
Absolutely. Everything you said.