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...


If you've been following along for some time, you know, from time to time, I like to voice my opinion on everything and anything associated with first time fatherhood. And, by voice my opinion, I mean complain. But the fact is I don't really have anything to complain about. Sure, like any parent, I'm always tired and that's 24 hours a day, seven days a week with no end in sight. It comes with the territory, but it's not a screaming child that keeps me walking around like a zombie, it's the schedule I now have to keep to satisfy the needs of three people- my child, myself, and my wife. But, having heard many of your parenting horror stories, I know I shouldn't complain because I'm getting off easy. Really easy.

Case in point, yesterday I was at a baby naming for a friend's third child. I was surrounded by babies and parents of all ages, personality types and neuroses. It would have made a great nature/nurture study as watching the various parenting styles I couldn't help but wonder if nervous parents create nervous, neurotic children and if calm, collected parents make carefree, confident children....or maybe children are just born who they are going to be from the get go? All I know is, so far, from what I've seen, I have the easiest kid in the world, and it's nothing I did. And every time it was time to go around the table and share a parental horror tale, I didn't have one. I just don't have that kind of child. Sorry.

As parents, my wife and I are just as lost as everybody else- but a daughter that sleeps and doesn't cry surely helps us out- a lot. Sure, there's screaming and crying (usually two minutes before her regular feeding time), but rarely is there a meltdown- on my or my daughter's part- when we are left alone together, and thus I can handle almost everything else you throw at me. Diaper changes aren't that hard once you learn to hold your breath. Puke doesn't bother me as long as I remember to close my mouth (to keep the puke out) the second my daughter's stomach makes that Princess Bride "fire swamp" noise. I can tune out that fake crying that she does when she's crabby or overtired, so that doesn't affect me.  And, she can throw all her food on the floor for all I care because we have dogs- and they eat everything. Crying in the middle of the night doesn't wake me up- I go to sleep at 3 a.m.. And, my daughter's need to scream every morning between 7 and 7:30 for a bottle is easily solved with a little preparation... I simply get up, pull a pre-made bottle out of the fridge, warm it up, hand it to her in her crib (with a pre-selected book) and go lie in bed until she's in a better mood (which usually only takes until she finishes the bottle). It's all about finding a system that works for you.

Sure, my daughter has slept 12 hours every night, without fail, from the very first day we brought her home. Sure, she takes regular naps. Yes, she's a good eater. And, of course she loves the bath and her ability to use her splashing skills to empty one. But, don't blame me for it. I'm innocent! I just got lucky- this time. My kid, through a freak stroke of luck, came out of the womb pre-programmed to chill, and because of that I come off looking good. But don't think for a second that I don't know how easy I have it. While I'm sitting at the table eating my breakfast in peace while my daughter is being passed around the room to anybody and everybody that wants to hold her (I started this on day one at the hospital, by the way, as I knew it would come in handy later on), I'm listening to all the mothers at the table share their horror stories, and I'm taking notes.

Why? Because I know my next kid will be a terror by comparison. What do I know about sleep training, or colic, or separation anxiety? These are all foreign concepts to me... this time around. But, sooner or later, I'm gonna have to learn to deal with such things, and it's gonna suck. So, hate me now, as you're up in the middle of the night rocking your baby to sleep, but when your second kid causes you similar trouble you'll know what to expect, and how to handle it- I'll be totally lost. So take solace in that. And, if I complain, it's all relative. My kid may be easy, but she's still a baby and as we all know raising a kid is no walk in the park (unless she can verbally tell you what she wants at a mere 15 months of age and doesn't walk- very much- because she's lazy and prefers to read quietly to herself on the floor). Okay, you can hate me now...

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