Ten Lessons Learned from Year #1 as a Dad

10. Take care of yourself and your partner.  Doing so allows you to better take care of the baby.  This includes mental, physical, and emotional health.

9. There will be bodily fluids everywhere.  Most of them coming from the baby.  Get used to it.

8. Some things will happen obscenely fast.  “HOW DID HE GET SO BIG??? IT’S ONLY BEEN A FEW MONTHS!”

7. Others will happen excruciatingly slow.  “IT’S BEEN 8 MONTHS AND HE STILL ISN’T CLAPPING!”

6. They demonstrate both remarkable resilience and exceeding frailty.  A slow tumble off the couch yields a bloody nose while a cross-room flight directly into a wooden headboard leaves nary a mark.  Don’t ask questions.  Just count your blessings.

5. They will demonstrate their own personality early and often.  Some of this will remind you of yourself.  And some of that will leave you tickled pink.  But some of it you will hate.  This latter part might cause you to have a severe identity crisis.

4. Things will not go according to plan #1.  Oh, you planned to run this morning?  Or watch a movie tonight?

3. You will cease to matter*.  From here on out, whenever you see someone, they will ask first about the baby and then about your wife.  Should you interact with that person for approximately 72 hours, they might get around to saying, “Oh, and how are you?”

2. Things will not go according to plan #2.  Oh, you wanted your offspring to be a certain thing (e.g., calm or lively or expressive or less clingy or…)?  Ya know what, just stop planning things altogether.

1. They will fill your life with so much joy and happiness, you won’t know what to do with it.  You might feel motivated to try to eat them.  Attempting to do so risks running afoul of #10 on this list.  “TAKE HIS HEAD OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!” was a common refrain the first few months.

Happy birthday, Mayo! (Click for totes adorbes video.)

* This one might be unique to husbands/fathers in heterosexual relationships.

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39 thoughts on “Ten Lessons Learned from Year #1 as a Dad

  1. Happy birthday, Mayo! And congratulations on getting through the first year. I won’t say it’s the hardest, but it’s probably the most time-destroying.
    This is a great list, Kaz. I’m really glad you listed number 2, because I wasn’t really aware of this.
    I also like number 1. I don’t know where that “I love you so much I want to eat you” thing comes from, but it’s a miracle Alice still has all her fingers and toes.

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    • If I remember correctly, you actually warned me from the get-go about trying to eat him. “That guy’s crazy,” I thought. Fast forward a few days and it was a nightly quest to see just how much of his body I could devour. It’s something you can’t really understand until the urge hits you.

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  2. Happy birthday to baldy! Seriously, time flies, doesn’t it?

    I remember the first time I held my son as though it happened this morning, the experience was so powerful. Little bugger’s 16, finishing 10th grade, and telling better jokes than me now. Enjoy the time while it lasts, because you will miss it, but you will find new things to love and one day miss with every year that goes by.

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  3. I have a whole post on it planned, but you know one of the most gobsmacking and surprising things that’s happened to me? I’ve become irredeemably sappy and sensitive when it comes to children. Like you know how TV so often uses children to emotionally manipulate its viewers? I fall for it now. I can’t help it. I know I’m being manipulated, that knowledge is overridden.

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      • I’ve largely been immune to the kid thing as a function of work. I mean, I have an intense sentimentality in general towards children, but nothing that leaves me open to blatant emotional manipulation. I’ve just gotten more emotional and sensitive in other ways. People at work have pointed out. Apparently, I had the reputation as being quite the dick. Meh…

        I will say that there is a 3-year-old in the classroom next door who is the spitting image of Mayo, if only he had long hair down to his butt. Seeing her smile sometimes tugs at the heart strings.

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      • I was actually thinking of the opposite manipulation as much as anything. The using of children to make me feel sad or angry.

        An example was when I watched a military action flick wherein a character died and they used his infant child to tug at the heartstrings. By god, it worked. It’s something that would have registered before, but not in the same ballpark. The use of the baby in Breaking Bad has a whole new dimension than it would have a couple years ago.

        Not that I don’t also feel what you are talking about. It just wasn’t what came to mind.

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  4. The best part?

    There are future lists.

    One of my favorite future lists things only came into focus with child #2 — much of what I thought was personality was developmental phase, and much I’d attributed to developmental phase was actually personality.

    Congrats Mayo! We’re proud of you for keeping your dad on the learning curve of life.

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    • I’m curious to learn how much of what we are seeing now is developmental phase and how much is personality. Despite my background in early childhood, I have zero experience or training with infants and toddlers.

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      • Oh Lordy, Kazzy, I’ll have to think on it; it was a long time ago. I remember thinking that clearly as I watched baby #2 grow; but not so much why. (Life for baby #2 is really fuzzy because I was really, really busy.)

        I think eating habits was one. There are definite times where they’re willing to try anything and then times where they’re picky, and I suspect this has more to do with how their brains and senses are developing then likes/dislikes of foods.

        Types of play, too. There were games and humor that had seemed totally based on personality, that, come to find out, weren’t. And many things that had seemed developmental that also weren’t.

        But I’m also probably not a good judge of this, my elder child did a lot of things out of order; refining the pincer grip before the fist grip, for instance; and my younger displayed a keen mind for understanding mechanical things really young; taking things apart and putting them back together before the age of three, and I’m sure something else slid in that mental effort.

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  5. Read this in my RSS feed, where it looks like this: http://i.imgur.com/o4x7cYE.png

    (Y’all have been in my RSS since the day The League of Ordinary Gentlemen was first launched years ago)

    I was going to share this with a coworker who’s been a dad for just over a year, so I clicked to come here to the article page to get the URL.

    And gosh, there’s no bold here and it’s simply much harder to read it on this page. No longer an appealing article to share.

    Is it just the bold that makes so much difference? Plus the strange title font here?

    I know I used to like the original League site’s design, and this is not my *first* time seeing how Ordinary Times looks today….. but it’s my first time noticing that it really doesn’t meet my visual standards for something I want to share with a coworker for a list like this.

    So figured I’d give the feedback.

    TL;DR this site has good content, bad formatting.

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  6. Fits in with #10, but sleep for yourself becomes much more important. It might be tempting to stay up after everyone else is asleep to take some time to do things you want to do, but it’s not fair to your family if you wind up a little grumpier and more easily frustrated due to lack of sleep. I really hate when I turn into cranky dad.

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    • Our own Dr. Saunders was integral to understand this. Zazzy was initially insistent on breast feeding exclusively. But when she returned to work and the demands on her became too much, she turned into a zombie who seemed to live only so that she could work, feed him, and sleep. It took a real toll. Thankfully, the good doctor penned some pieces (one privately, one publicly here) on the importance of a more balanced approach that got us through that period. I am eternally indebted to him for it. Happy mom, happy baby. Same thing for dad.

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  7. Happy first birthday to little Mayo! I can’t believe it’s been a year already. He is quite adorable (I really can’t abide the phrase “totes adorbs.”)

    Sweet post–it made me smile.

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    • “Totes adorbs” was offered wholly ironically.

      As much as I like the video, the feature image on the FP is one of my favorite pics of him. He looks like the Unabomber sketch. My last name isn’t that unlike the Unabomber’s own, so we call that his Mayo Kaczynski picture. I have it in a frame on my bedside table that is emblazoned with “I LOVE MY DADDY!” The combination of the lettering and the image make it eerily threatening.

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    • Neither Jack nor Hannah slept well in their first year.

      Since Kitty’s pregnancy with Hannah overlapped Jack’s second year (they’re basically two years apart, minus two weeks), it was a long slog where there wasn’t much sleeping from about three months before Jack was born to about Hannah’s 14th month.

      Hannah’s about 14 months, she had some fussy something and it was my turn to deal with it, so I went and got her to go back to bed, and I staggered back into the bedroom and said, “It’s gonna be at least four years before I have the energy do deal with another newborn” and Kitty said, “And then my uterus will be over 40, so I’m pretty sure we’re done now”

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  8. Heh.

    So here’s an example of a Coming Attraction for ya. Hannah is seven. Last night, she comes in to my bedroom while I’m checking Facebook.

    Hannah, matter of factly: “I was just talking to Zeus (ed: her snake) and he said…”
    Me, interrupting: “You’re a parseltongue?”
    Hannah, giving Cross at Being Interrupted: “No, Daddy. I’m not that. Now…”
    Me, interrupting again because this is Too Good: “No, remember from Harry Potter? Harry can talk to snakes? They call that being a ‘parseltongue’, remember?”
    Hannah: “Oh, well… then yes, I am one.”
    Me: “Where did you learn to talk to snakes?”
    Hannah: “I just can.”
    Me: “Since when?”
    Hannah: “I think since, well, not really right away when we got him. But the boy who loaned us his lizard (ed: we pet-sat a gecko a while back), he could talk to his lizard, and he taught me some, and I think lizards and snakes basically speak the same language.”
    Me: “Oh, okay. So what was Zeus saying?”
    Hannah: “He was saying… (attention diverted by the terrier)… Oh, HI, MAXI! You’re a GOOD dog, yes you are!”
    Me: “Do you speak dog, too?”
    Hannah, exasperated, “Well of course, Daddy, I’m a dog!” (she was born in the Year of the Dog)

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  9. Oh shut up! Damn, time flies!!! Congrats, Mayo!

    When I think back to Junior’s first year, it feels like so long ago. He’s become a whole different person in the past three years. I need that little memory keeper from Harry Potter in order to accurately preserve the tiny guy things he did/does.

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