Note: This is the newest column from our Berkshire Family Focus team of columnists that will run on the third Monday of each month, and our contributor John Krol is looking for a cool name for this column. Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
You know you’ve been broken in as a parent when, somehow, being rudely awakened at 3:30 a.m. isn’t so bad. Hey, last night it was 2 a.m. and then 4 a.m. – the little guy is up to a whole four hours of sleep at night. Wow, progress!
And so it goes. Somehow getting four or five hours of sleep becomes acceptable as a full night of uneasy slumber once you become a parent.
There have been other changes, too. My wife and I know all the details of our two month olds day, since it’s is all being tracked with a Total Baby app for the iPhone. We know down to the minute the length of naps, feedings, changings (pee, poop, usually both), tummy times and various milestones he reaches with the ability to create sophisticated graphs and offer statistical analyses of what our baby does and doesn’t do.
The new realities of life as a father. … Yes, like many first-time fathers told me before our little guy came into this world, we’ve said goodbye to sleep, and we know things will never be the same again. But most importantly my wife and I have realized — it’s all more than worth it.
From the surreal night my wife’s water broke two weeks before her due date, the blurry-eyed early days getting to know him — and it didn’t take long for Arden to show his personality — and letting it sink-in that we’re now “Mommy and Daddy” we’ve been thrust into this thing called parenthood and learning as we go. We’ve also come up with our own best practices (and even entrepreneurial dreams) of creating an effective pee suppression system. Currently, changings don’t happen without one hand attached to the mini-washcloth strategically covering Old Faithful. Yes, like Murphy’s Law, when the system isn’t followed the onesie, changing table, walls and window shades— are all at dire risk.
I’m realizing you learn more about what you’re made of, and together, what we’re made of once you become parents. Anything frivolous in your day is identified quickly and eliminated. You cut out the fat, so to speak, and your priorities become crystal clear – there’s no time for anything else. So, as the little guy gets bigger and bigger from 7 pounds and 7 ounces to 10, and then 12 pounds — growing almost daily before our eyes — we have grown, too. You can prepare all you want (Dr. Spock is out, Dr. Sears is in) but really, you can’t prepare at all. Improvisation, from the old tricks like driving circles in the parking lot to soothe a cranky, hungry baby while Mommy stands in the checkout line to discovering previously unfathomable locations for a changing, you just roll with it. And you learn quickly that some things are learned, and other things are unmistakably natural. I often watch in awe as my wife handles it all gracefully like she’s been a mother for years, not days.
It’s been two months since our baby came into this world and we already miss when he was “little,” or at least “little-er,” and we just hope he stays this size a little longer. But alas, it’s not to be. It will go fast, everyone says it will. And no doubt, we’ll be giving the same advice to the next new parents we meet: “Appreciate every moment – every new look he gives, every new smile, new things he sees, new ways he communicates.” The camera is always on call because he’ll only be this age once. But, no more time to be sentimental – smells like time for another change.
Pittsfield native and first-time dad John Krol is the owner of 180 Media. He still lives in the Berkshires with his wife Allison and son Arden.