A few months ago, I was trying to get my 1-year-old daughter ready for preschool. She was… uncooperative.
As I gathered her shoes, she came running into the living room crying, holding her blanket and a stuffed animal.
“No! Daddy!,” she screamed. “Stinky butt!”
My daughter, who couldn’t yet complete a sentence, took a phrase I had used toward the dog, “stinky butt,” and spun it directly toward me because she wasn’t ready to leave for daycare.
In the midst of stressful chaos, I practically cried I was laughing so hard.
That instance has been parenting in a nutshell for me.
Here are my parenting experiences and results from two years on the job.
“Make sure you get plenty of sleep before she’s born.”
Of all the advice I have received, the sleep deprivation is real. Even the week of my daughter’s second birthday we were up around midnight and 4 a.m. Even if you get a miracle sleeper, you still have to deal with other elements that keep them awake late at night: teething, fever, loneliness, etc.
Getting Into Everything
Many parents keep track of their child’s height by marking it down on the drywall. I remember her developmental milestones based on all the things she gets into.
When she started walking, she first opened the cabinets in our living room. Later on, it was the silverware drawer, then the bedroom/closet doors before being able to pull herself up onto coffee tables and chairs.
She opened the fridge last week.
Lack of Social Life
My wife and I encourage each other to experience good times when they come up. She lets me do more stuff than her.
However, the point is it’s hard going from having endless flexibility with your free time to, “Sorry (insert friend name), I just can’t make it work tonight.”
I don’t go out. I drink much less alcohol. I have to adjust my already-compromised sleep schedule to work out.
Life’s just different, you know? It’s not that bad.
So how the hell do I go from rattling off numerous things that suck about fatherhood and then tell you everything’s fine and dandy?
It’s because of that moment when your little baby recognizes who you are. The look in their eye when they get excited to see you sends shock waves through your heart. It a forever-type-of impact.
Even as annoying as it can be when your child starts doing things she’s not supposed to, it goes away when you see them outperform your expectations.
Soon after she learned to turn knobs and reach handles, I came home from work one day to her holding the door open for me as I walked into the house. She said, “Hi, daddy!”
One time I dozed off in the rocking chair as she was playing in her room. She woke me up with a diaper in her hand and said, “Change diaper?” Sure enough, it was full.
Every day they do something amazing and it reflects well on you.
The stinky butt reference was just the beginning.
- My wife will be in the other room and say, “Hey, Scott!” Soon after, my daughter: “Hey, Scott!”
- Imagine how a shark opens its mouth in a fight against a crocodile. Now imagine an 18-month-old open her mouth to pile in a measly two strands of Mac ‘N Cheese. Similar execution.
- Pretend that a normal pair of ski gloves turn into magical, automatic tickling gloves. Now, think about a kid’s face when they figure it out and start chasing you.
I could go on, but many of the laughs are inside jokes. I’m sure many parents have similar experiences.
To conclude, being a parent is amazing and difficult, but I wouldn’t alter anything about it. My kid’s butt isn’t stinky enough to change my mind.