**Note** I wrote this post in June of 2014; then I was talking about a 6-month-old baby. At the time I was a bit scared to publish it, but since then I’ve forgotten about it, rediscovered it, cleaned it up and clicked “Publish”. I don’t know why I was I too scared to publish it then; probably hormones.
Apparently it’s time for my yearly post.
Not long ago I was able to pump out 2-3 posts a month. Now I have to drag myself by the scruff of my own neck to the keyboard. The irony is that since we last talked I have taken a job as a writer.
Maybe I am using up all my words at work, but that does not say much about the number of words I’m capable of. No, no. I am capable of many, many words; anybody who has had the pleasure of working with me knows that I have the incredible ability of not being able to shut up.
My coyness aside, I know what has kept me from posting: We had a baby.
The last paragraph of my last post was an announcement that my wife had a little turnip growing inside her belly. Since the last time we talked that little turnip successfully made it through all phases of vegetable and fruit and emerged pink, screaming and with a head full of hair.
That was in late November. The gap from late June to late November was spent dumping lots of money into various kids’ stores, reading parenting books and blogs and steeling ourselves for the “oh-shit” moment of first meeting the human being we would ultimately be responsible for.
And the gap from late November till now has been spent loving the shit out of our perfect hot mess.
Six months hence and I am just now understanding the depth of my ignorance now and back when I wrote my last post. The clarity with which I see how utterly clueless I am about the fledgling existence of my child is so apparent in my day-to-day that I am grateful that our child is not growing patches of green furry mold like some of the cheese in the fridge I can’t seem to take care of.
Though as I look back at six-months-ago me, I can’t help but smile and give myself the knowing nod that other fathers give when they see me doing laps around the block with my screaming baby on the street. A simple nod that conveys the empathy of an ‘it gets better’ pep talk, and the impish satisfaction of knowing something someone else does not. (Like knowing that at some point during parenthood you will have poo in your hair.)
No doubt, becoming a dad changed me. Six months ago I wrote that I grew up when I told my dad not to call me ‘buddy’, but rather, ‘bud’. That to me now seems so quaint and cute–not unlike how I think the first finger-paint opus that lands on our fridge will seem to me.
Growing up used to be easy; remove the diminutive from a nickname your dad calls you and you’re ready for the world. Now, growing up means cherishing an eight-pound lump of various leaking bodily fluids and rocking it back to sleep at 3 am. Growing up means getting peed on as you wipe up poo, crying when your child is sick and taking off work to be with him and to bring him to the doctor. Growing up means understanding “playing second fiddle” is putting it kindly.
Since the last time we talked I actually did grow up. And now I am not too myopic to see that this is only the beginning. Surely 15 years from now I’ll write a post in which I talk about how quaint and cute cleaning baby poo was, and what really growing up means. OK, that’s fair. But now I know that my future self is also giving me an empathetic nod and impishly grinning at what I have to look forward to. (Puberty, namely, I imagine.)
I am happy to steal a few moments to clack out these words. On the balance of it, though, we have a really good baby–and for that I could not be any more grateful.
I am humbled every day I spend with him and wear the poo in my hair like war paint.
My son is named Chester and he is the dearest thing I have in this world.