Hello and welcome to a strange new world. You have traveled far through the desert, only to be met time and again by one empty oasis after another. You are lost and alone, wandering, wondering if someone, anyone, knows how you feel. And just when you think you can't go on, and no one could possibly understand your struggle, a hand reaches out to you, lifts you to your feet, and carries you to the promised land. He feeds you knowledge, shelters you from the self-righteous (and the ridiculous), and provides you with the tools you need to survive in this brave new world. You are a stranger in a strange land, but you are not alone. Let him be your guide. Follow closely as you travel together on this adventure of a lifetime. For now, you are a foreigner to "Fatherhood" but soon YOU will be the master of this realm.

"No Man is Expendable!"

This is Fodder 4 Fathers...



Right. Part Three in our continuing series on the real deal regarding fatherhood. I promised to hold nothing back, and this installment is no exception. We've covered The Pregnancy (you survived). We've covered The Delivery (we almost lost you there when you saw the blood and the after birth... but you survived). Now it's time to cover what I like to call The Reality (i.e. YOU'RE A FREAKIN' FATHER!). Um, Nurse? Can we get an orderly to pick that dude up off the floor? I think he fainted...



Well, your Mom warned you. Remember when she used to curse you by saying: "one day I'll get my revenge when you have a child just like you!?" Well, that day has come. And it doesn't really matter what your personality is, your Mom didn't need to add the words "just like you," as just cursing you with a child should have sufficed. No. I'm not saying a child is a curse. But what I am saying is your Mom's been waiting for the day when you finally realized the sacrifices she made as a parent, and what a soul-sucking, life draining ordeal it is to care for a newborn. Today is that day.

Lucky for you, I'm in a good mood. I'm on four hours of sleep a night for two months straight, my daughter has the stomach flu and either pukes and/or soils her diaper with diarrhea every hour on the hour, she fights me and my wife every time we try to give her liquids, and the whining and crying has been non-stop for two days. What does that mean to you? I'm not in the mood for bullsh@#. You want to know what it's like to care for a newborn - your own - 24/7? Brace yourself... you're in for a bumpy ride.

What's it like to care for a newborn? No different than caring for a toddler or a teenager, except for the fact that a newborn can't talk (which can be both a blessing and a curse). There's the crying, the wailing, the screaming, the crapping, the pissing, and the puking. There's the lack of sleep, the lack of sex, and the lack of any common sense on your part (according to your wife and all her friends). There's the loss of free time, loss of time to yourself and loss of self as your learn that your world is no longer about you and your needs but about the needs of your child and the needs of your wife to remind you of those needs and her own, ignoring yours entirely (for a few months anyway). There's the stress and the struggle of coming to terms with the fact that your life (and certain parts of your wife) will never be the same and you're about eight months past the point when you should have complained about it. The whole thing is alien to you, and staring at a useless blob that looks kinda like you is unnerving at first because you don't have the slightest clue who this person is, and, like any family member that comes to visit, you want to know what the hell he (or she) really wants from you. It's scary, and suffocating, and surreal to think that you, the guy that used to let his friends push him down hills made of asphalt in a shopping cart while high on the fumes of cooking spray, is now a father.

Caring for a newborn is thankless. You won't win any awards from your wife, or child for doing what needs to get done just to get through a regular day, but God forbid you wash one bottle improperly and you'll hear about it for months. Caring for a newborn is a competition; not an intentional one, but a competition none-the-less of who did what when and who deserves a break now. Caring for a newborn is complicated. It's like getting a superhero costume, but throwing the instructions away by mistake... and we all know how that turns out (see The Greatest American Hero). Caring for a newborn is tedious, and taxing, and ten times harder than caring for any dog you've ever had in your entire life. It's a roller coaster ride that turns into a hall of mirrors (my favorite one is the one that makes you look fat after only a few months) then a haunted house where you are guided around in the dark and asked to stick your hand in various containers holding one disgusting concoction after another.

Gross, hunh? Feeling woozy yet? I haven't even talked about babies with colic, or croup. I'm just talking about kids that sleep through the night, eat and poop regularly, and cry occasionally. It's not the babies that are the problem- you'll grow to love them- it's the schedule, and the sleep deprivation, and the stuff; all that stuff that goes with you everywhere and just gathers and gathers until one day...well, you have another kid and just get more STUFF. And what about the stuff the comes out of them... (sorry, I dry heaved in my mouth a bit)?

So what am I saying? Newborns are hard work. Work that neither you, nor any other father in history has been prepared for. But, like any job, if it's worth doing it's worth doing well. And the payoff? Well that's up to the individual to discover for himself. If you ask me, fathers (and yes mothers too) are under appreciated, but every once in a while, if the stars align, the world is a happy place.

Unless your daughter is sick with the stomach flu and your happy place turns into a diarrhea infused disaster...


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