Our daughter, Hayley, turned 4 months old today. Good for her. More importantly, I have now been a father for one third of a year. In these 18 weeks of experience, I feel that I thrived at my new job as “dad”, and have compiled a list of things that I have learned along the way.
Due to my excellence as a father, every item on this list is unequivocally correct and should be accepted without question. After all, I am sharing every secret and observation that I have gathered throughout my child’s entire life. Ask your neighbor if he can use Hayley’s life as a basis for parenting knowledge. He can’t. You came to the right place.
So prepare to step up your game as a failing parent, and take heed to the advice I give below.
1. Poop doesn’t smell. America has created this fallacy that poop smells bad, mainly on TV. Every episode of any TV show that depicts a parent changing his or her child’s diaper always features a scrunched up, disgusted face. As the viewer, I don’t smell anything bad. I just always accepted that it must smell due to the fantastic acting on screen. Now that I have a pooping child, I call shenanigans on those “actors”. If you have a poop-smelling problem, try exclusively eating breast milk and then get back to me.
2. Pee doesn’t go everywhere. We’ll stay in the diaper for observation #2. I’ve heard horror stories about pee spraying like a fountain at the doctor’s office. These must just be rumors, because I’ve solved the problem: have a girl.
3. I am pleasing to the eye. My child is literally a baby. She knows nothing more than milk and sleep. Coughing scares her. Still, the sight of me makes her smile. Tina doesn’t even like my hair, yet Hayley smiles at me. Either everything else she sees is ugly, or I am just that appealing.
4. Babies sleep through the night. Boy, was I fooled on this one. The single most frequently asked question of the last three months is “how is she sleeping?”. Like a baby, you fool. Hence the phrase. There is this common belief out there that babies should go to bed at 7 pm, wake up a few times during the night, and wake up officially at 7 am. Wrong. Why do I want her to wake up more than once? I don’t want to. Why should she? Instead, we put her to bed at 11 pm and let her wake up once at 7 am. It was simple really. We had two and a half months of non-stop crying and screaming until 11 pm when she finally grew tired and passed out for the night. Now, a habit has formed!
5. All babies, regardless of gender, love football. I know this because Hayley is locked on the TV when football is on. She literally will whip her around to catch a glimpse of the action if I dare move her away. That means that humans instinctively enjoy football and it takes the negative influence of devil people to remove this enjoyment from our lives.
6. Babies have a switch. They are either “on” or “off”. This switch does not contain a dimmer. Instead, it turns a pitch black cave into a blindingly bright room. Now, instead of this switch controlling a mere light bulb, picture it on a baby. The baby is either nauseatingly adorable, or literally choking on its own tears in between violent screams. I used to say that Tina’s temper caused her to “go from 0 to 60 in a second”. Babies put that to shame.
7. If it crinkles, scratches, rattles, or clanks, it is fantastic.
8. If it is red, it is even better
9. Babies are hungry. Always. Baby starts eating when she wakes up. If we are lucky, baby pretends to be full a half hour later. Sometimes, she doesn’t bother pretending and she is back to the milk 15 minutes later. This may last another half hour. But worry not, her “2-3 hours between feedings” timer does not start after she finishes. It started back at the first meal, over an hour ago. So make sure you make the best of the 15 minutes that actually exist without your child eating. Those minutes go fast.
10. Babies don’t sleep in their own room because mommy and daddy’s room contains mommy and daddy. This is no accident. Baby’s room does not contain mommy and daddy, so it shouldn’t contain baby either. Despite the fact that we have actually been pretty good (well, as good as one can be) about the hundreds of terrifying sounds that come from “sleeping” baby, having her leave our room confirms our biggest fear: she doesn’t need us.
11. Baby will always need us.
12. Baby may not always need us. As every single person has said to me at one time or another, and as I have also begrudgingly admitted, “they grow up so fast.” Hayley is pretty much the smallest baby I have ever seen. But looking back at the few….thousand pictures of her birth, she is massive now. For the first 3 months of her life, she literally had the hiccups every, single day. One day, the hiccups just stopped. One day, she might not need us.
13. We will always need baby.
14. Babies have magical powers to make everyone around them happy. I wrote this when Tina was pregnant, but it’s worth repeating that “people love pregnant ladies and babies”. I believe that babies learn to smile early on because everybody that is looking at them is smiling. Babies have this amazing ability to bring joy to everyone, everywhere. Of course, it’s a perfect combination of cuteness, innocence, and usually, Hayley’s outfits courtesy of Tina. Still, it goes beyond Hayley. Babies are transcendent. They are the perpetual beacon of joy in its purist form.
15. Babies change everyone’s lives. Yes, we can’t go to the movies anymore and getting out of the house in a “timely manner” is literally a joke. But, I expected that. I also expected to love this little bundle of squishiness more than anything in the world. All of those things happened. In fact, the “changes” I have encountered are all expected and, generally, welcomed. That does not mean our lives haven’t been changed. Everybody’s life around us has also changed. There is a new love in everyone’s life. A new member of our family. Of my circle of friends. A new generation in the family business. But all of this centers around one, beautiful little life.
In my four months as a father, I have learned and embraced only one thing: I am more important because of Hayley, yet I am not important at all. She is.
A baby is the most important part of anyone’s life. To a dad. To a mom. To the world.