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10 Things You Should Know Before Becoming a Dad

Liars.  We’re all liars if we say we’re ready to become parents.

We can never know everything we need to know to prepare for that moment.  Let this list of 10 Things You Should Know Before Becoming a Dad be a short guide before you begin your journey.  Think of it as the quick start guide to booting up your fortitude for what’s to come.  

10.  Your hands will never not smell like poop again.  No – it doesn’t matter that you eventually stop wiping their butts.  Because after that, you’ll be digging Power Rangers out of the toilet.  And then you’ll have science experiments that require fertilizer.  And then you’re finding 4-month-old bottles of milk under the back seat of the van.  And then you’re a grandparent.  And if it’s not from changing their diapers, it’s from changing your own.  Just get used to it…and find convenient places to stash hand sanitizer.  

9.  You will become a food hoarder.  Because just once, when you buy a bag of chips or a tub of ice cream, you want it to have more than crumbs left in it when you finally take a self-indulgent moment.  And if you don’t hoard it, hide it, or lock it in the safe…you’ll face inevitable disappointment.  

8.  You’ll hate children.  It’s not what you think, though.  Having kids doesn’t make you hate children.  Quite the contrary, actually.  It makes you love those specific children so much that when a four year old girl tells your son that he’s stupid, you’ll feel a surging rage that makes you want to decimate her with words wholly not playground-appropriate.  And, unfortunately, that protective instinct will fight for survival during teacher’s meetings, first dates, and job interviews, too.  

7.  If you ever let your young son pee outside even once, he'll do it in front of company. And probably on the sidewalk as they're heading out to their car.  Just embrace it now.  It’ll make it easier when the time comes.  

6.  You’ll finally learn to cry.  It could be tears of frustration when your baby is clearly distressed but cannot communicate why.  It could tears of joy (yes, that’s a real thing) as pride wells up in your soul at the first game, recital, hunting trip, confirmation, or mug shot – depending on your family context.  Possibly tears of anger will spring forth when your brand new car gets wrecked.  Those will swiftly turn to tears of relief that your baby (who is now old enough to drive) was not injured behind the wheel…and then transform to tears of fury when you find out they were texting when the accident happened.  Tears have a brilliant way of multi-tasking.  But probably, they’ll just be tears that come from getting kicked in that sensitive spot since all kids seem to have a built-in radar that silently guides every drone sent from the mother ship to the same GPS coordinates….every time….every.  single.  time.

 5.  Money will become no object.  No.  Really.  You won’t have any.  

4.  Lock the bedroom door.  Your wife will tell you some story about needing the door to be open or unlocked in the event your child needs you in the middle of the night.  It’s a trap!!  The truth is – she never wants to be pregnant again.  Leaving the door unlocked is her insurance policy.  The only fate-sealer more potent than an unlocked door is a bed with plenty of room for a kid to sleep there, too.  

3. Phrases meant as a compliment to you will unwittingly shame your children.  Your very source of pride will be their unmitigated horror.  “You could never deny that one, Darren – he looks just like you.”  Just to give one example.  

2.  At some stage, your home, car, office, paperwork, marriage, fill-in-the-blank will go from awesome, clean, solid, perfect, fill-in-the-adjective to ‘good enough.’  And for some areas of life, that will suffice.  The trick to being a great dad is knowing which areas those are.  (And for the record, you and your wife will probably have different ideas on this.)  

1. This runaway love will definitely take you unaware.  You love your wife.  You love your car.  You may have even loved your job, on occasion.  But you will never love more completely, more dangerously, or more surprisingly than the way you love your children.  You’ll do things proudly that you would deny ever doing before you become a dad.  Love will compel you to go places you never dreamed – and enjoy being there.  Love will be a deep water dive without enough oxygen to make the trip and you’ll gladly hold your breath until you break the surface of the water.  So breathe deeply, dad.  You might find yourself going back under at any moment. Some days fatherhood feels like drowning.  Other times, it’s discovering the beauty and rarity of the coral reef.  Some days, sharks circle and wait for the smell of blood.

It’s exhilarating.  It’s pandemonium.  It’s fatherhood.  Now you know.

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