Co Existing: My Transition to Fatherhood
Anyone who asks me for an honest answer on what it’s like to become a parent, would hear me say it is the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done. Taking into account that I am merely a petty officer in the cruise ship that is our family life, with Adrienne at the helm, the experience has still brought me to my knees at times. Whether it’s from laughing too hard when goofing around with the girls, or out of sheer exhaustion from consecutive, inconsistent nights of sleep, the privilege and responsibility of being a parent is unlike anything I could describe. As such, there is not much that could have prepared me for this role. Sure, we adopted 2 dogs prior to having kids, so there was some minor semblance of having to be responsible for another living thing. But really, besides the occasional stomach issues, caring for the pups was just a simple practice in “rinse, lather, repeat”
Children, by definition, are a completely different species (from dogs J). Think about it: they are a living organism that is going through numerous, significant development stages in a relatively short period of time. The period of time I’m referring to are the first couple of years of their life, the very same years in which the parenting “training wheels” come off and you’re forced to discover your physical, mental, and emotional limits. Child rearing will test the very fibers of your relationship with your significant other for the simple fact that we each went through different upbringings and therefore carry different sets of “baggage” which may or may not dictate how a person parents.
Luckily for our girls (and myself), I decided a long time ago to mostly defer to Adrienne’s methods on how to properly care and manage children’s emotions. She has that motherly instinct, she just knows what to do and when to do it. It amazes me. I; on the other hand, have no patience, am not quick to think on my feet, and personally, I don’t even enjoy kids that much. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my girls. They are my world. It’s just that I’ve always had a very clear understanding of what the job of being a parent entails, and honestly if it weren’t for being married to the right person, I may not even have considered having any.
“Wow Joe, tell us how you REALLY feel!”
While all this sounds horrific, there are equally as many (if not more) life-altering moments of absolute joy and overwhelming love that you’ll feel for these little versions of yourself. You’ll come to fully understand the meaning of the words “unconditional love”. Still, difficult to explain and yet easy to accept. It’s a new reality and from everything I’ve been told from parents who have 8-year olds or teenagers, there’s plenty more in store for us.
I was supposed to talk about my transition into parenthood and instead it feels like I hijacked an open-mic night and went on a 10-minute rant detailing just how irresponsible it is for the government to entrust me with raising kids! All kidding aside, this transition has had its share of ups and downs. I think some of that can be attributed to the challenges an individual normally goes through when having to make drastic changes to their everyday life. For me, I view it as the next logical phase, the next (not-so-new and improved) version of myself. Like the very hungry caterpillar, who emerges from its cocoon as a butterfly, it doesn’t completely lose or forget who it was before it had wings. And neither should we.