How I Knew I was Ready for Kids
…15 months after my daughter was born.
I placed my daughter on top of her changing mat in the middle of a narrow park bench. She fit on the bench with just enough space for my cell phone on either side of her. If she decided to roll to one side or the other, I would have had some explaining to do. Amazingly, she stayed still. Maybe it was the fresh air on her bare bottom that signaled this was not a regular diaper change with daddy I never thought I would have the confidence to change my daughter’s cloth diaper in public. That’s when I smiled to myself and realized that I was ready for kids.
I suppose it would be better to know that you’re ready for kids before actually having kids. Or at least before your son or daughter begins to walk. But hey I got there eventually.
How can you be ready for kids? How did I become ready for kids? For first time parents, it can be terrifying. I’ve heard people say they’re ready, but I never felt their level of irrational confidence.
Oh, I used to babysit my cousins all the time. I can handle it.
My partner and I got a dog so that we can practice.
I carried around this egg and I didn’t break it for 4 hours.
I thought I was ready. We had a crib. We attended prenatal classes and didn’t skip a single one. We bought a stroller. My wife and I talked about parenting styles. We had a changing table, diapers, wipes, a mobile – everything we thought we needed.
Then our baby came. Reality set in. It didn’t matter that our stroller was a beautiful race car red. Or that the crib fit perfectly in our apartment. This was unlike anything I had experienced before.
I fumbled diaper changes. I was a slave to the little thermometer in her baby tub. I rolled her stroller over the ridges on the sidewalk as softly as I could. If you were holding my daughter incorrectly, I would shoot death stares at you. I was responsible for another human being. I took that responsibility seriously. I was that new parent: overprotective and slightly insane – insecure and scared.
The constant change doesn’t help ease the feelings of insecurity. Just when I felt comfortable – I found a productive moment during her third nap of the day – she decides she only needs two naps. Losing mastery of my life wasn’t covered in the prenatal class.
The great thing about being a new parent is that you don’t stay a new parent forever. Just as my daughter’s routine changed, I did too. I learned on the fly. I got “reps” with baths and diaper changes and like a rookie quarterback gained more experience playing in actual games. I accepted and embraced that change and adaptation was a major part of my life now.
The sense of responsibility hasn’t faded. It grew stronger the more I fell in love with the miniature, cuter, better version of me. As she grew older the more activities we could do together. I’ve been working on getting her to like the food and music that I like and the sports that I enjoy. My next project is to brainwash her into liking the same sports teams that I like. (She already likes the colour purple so getting her to like the Lakers will be a breeze.)
Fatherhood is unlike anything that I’ve ever experienced. I couldn’t be ready. I had to grow into the role. I had to become ready. I had to play myself into tip top fatherhood shape. I took some knocks, but I came out better for it.
Read all the books you want, talk to other parents and take the classes. But when you’re at the playground and your kid just pooped her pants and there’s no cozy changing area, it’s just you, your baby, the park bench and that not so discreet odour emanating from your direction.