For anyone who has stumbled onto this blog as a first time dad you will soon realize, if you haven’t already, that time flies. Everyone and their mother can tell you that it will move fast, but it doesn’t truly encapsulate the speed at which time flies by with your child. Don’t get me wrong, there are times where a moment, a night, an early morning wakeup, feels slow, but the entity of that first year flies by.
Throughout this first year of being a dad, I’ve learned many things. Things that people told me before having a child. Things I soon came to the realization were and are affecting me. Things that have weighed heavy on me at times, as well as the downright silly things that us dads may think and/or try. Our son, Knox, has been a joy this first year and I hope that one day he can look back at these blogs to connect to thoughts, processes, memories, that I had at one point along his and my life. Hopefully he can better understand what we all go through. That life is one wild ride. That life has bumps and we get bruises, but it is also the most beautiful journey.
You may be expecting the typical top ten, but I am going with 7 things. The reason for the number 7 helps share my story a little more. I was born on the 7th of March and my favorite football player growing up wore 7, John Elway. I think it’s important to have that personal touch in everything I share. I don’t want to be your typical lifestyle blog.
Without further ado, here is my list of TOP SEVEN things I learned in this first year of being a Dad:
7. Birthing a Child is WILD– Now you might say, ” WOW, great story dude”, but hang with me. I am a planner. I like to have an idea how things will go before jumping into really anything. The 24 hours of going to the hospital to be induced, to him actually being born is a blur. It’s like one of those dreams that you need to write down before you forget. You are going through every single emotion under the sun and feeling rather helpless. I mean we are the DAD. I’m not doing the heavy lifting. Here’s the thing though: YOU ARE IMPORTANT. I know that I could’ve been a better partner during those 24 hours, but I sure tried to do everything in my power to make sure my wife was as comfortable and happy as possible. There were probably a total of 5 minutes where I actually thought I knew what I was doing, but that didn’t really matter. What mattered was how much of a CHAMP my wife was throughout the process. There’s really no way to completely prepare for something like birth because it is truly a miracle. The key is to enjoy every moment. Even the scary parts. You will be tired, and nervous, and scared, and maybe hurting, but the key is to enjoy the moment because it really is WILD.
6. “I Get by With a Little Help From My Friends”– You don’t realize how great your friends and family are until they come through in a big way. I think we all take for granted the awesome relationships we have with our family and friends. When talking about something I learned through this first year of being a dad, I’m talking about all of the help we’ve had throughout, but especially that first week or two. After the WILD ride of birth you almost feel like you’re sleepwalking. Kind of like you are not fully there, that your mom woke you up to go to bed and you can’t remember how you got there. That is where your support system comes in. We had THE ABSOLUTE BEST support system. As we got used to holding Knox, making sure Mom and baby were doing great, learning about swaddling, etc. we also kind of forgot about food and eating. Don’t fear, as our awesome family brought us bomb sandwiches from EatZi’s. That may seem like a simple thing, but over the next two weeks we had friends and family dropping off food, helping with watching Knox so we could sleep a little, to just checking in. Side note, the queso from Costco is ridiculous!!! Those times are where you learn, or maybe you are just reminded, how important those relationships are in your life. There will be times that you want to be alone, but it sure was nice to not think about groceries or what we would eat next.
5. Don’t Try to “Outsmart” the Sleeping Cycle– I’m naturally a bull headed person. Anyone that really knows me, knows that I can be stubborn. Sometimes that can be to a fault. Over the first couple days of having Knox home, I came up with this “great” plan to take turns being up with Knox. In my mind it made sense to let Christine sleep from 9pm until I couldn’t stay awake. See in my mind, I could stay up with him if he couldn’t sleep, feed him, etc. and then I would just sleep when Christine would take over around 3-4am. I’ll be honest, this may have been the worst idea ever. I remember binge watching “Stranger Things” as I tried to keep Knox happy and stay awake myself. The part that doesn’t make sense about this is I don’t know if Knox really ever got comfortable in the living room with me as I stayed up. The other part was I would be exhausted by about 2am and completely out of commission. What ended up happening is Christine and I both probably sleeping worse than we would’ve had I just stuck to a normal plan. Sleeping together and taking turns getting up with him, if and when he woke up. LESSON LEARNED.
4. Diapers. But Really! – As you are preparing to have a child you will have the discussion of what type of diapers you will use. There are a million options, but it primarily comes down to cloth or disposable. Everyone has their own opinion on this, but when it came to us we knew we wanted to go the disposable route (We love using Honest diapers, especially the donut print! I’ll link the diapers at the bottom.). I knew going in we would need a lot, but I honestly had NO IDEA! Again, I know, I know, EVERYONE tells you how many diapers you will need. Apparently I didn’t understand the true scope of that statement. You start feeling like you picked up a part time gig with the amount of diapers you change. I also GUARANTEE that you will have some horror story along the way. If you have a boy, just remember that thing will spray you if you aren’t paying attention or on your toes. They also always pee longer than you would think possible. We felt extremely blessed in the fact that my baseball team and their families surprised us with a diaper and wipes drive. THANK GOODNESS!!! Those moms and dads were definitely looking out for us newbies. Fun fact about me, I never once changed a diaper before Knox. People would ask if I would like to “practice”. If anyone tells you that they are really just wanting a break from changing diapers. You will get A TON of “practice” with your child, believe me.
3. No one is perfect… – This one rings so clear for me. I have been a perfectionist for as long as I can remember. It had nothing to do with my upbringing. My parents were the absolute best. They didn’t put pressure on me, it was just there. I fear failure. I fear letting people down. I fear small missteps. I’m hard on people because I’m even harder on myself. These tendencies can come out as negatives to those I love at times. It’s something I’m continually working on and learning to cope with. I’m working on being better to myself and letting myself relax. I say this all to remind you that you will make mistakes. Those mistakes can be super small. Maybe forgetting to take the full diaper bag to the garbage on trash day. They can also be on a larger scale. Maybe feeling despair in the midst of a long night and a crying baby. I know that there were times that me trying to be perfect gnawed on my being when Knox was crying over those first few months. I felt absolutely helpless. I felt insignificant. I felt anger towards myself. In these moments you have to have a way to breathe and relax. You have a lifetime to learn. Being a parent is being a lifelong learner. You’re going to make messes, you’re going to have a terrible idea you try (sleep cycle dumb idea), you’re going to have tough days and nights, and I promise it’s going to hurt you most when they hurt. I remember the time I accidentally caught Knox’s skin in his carseat. It was only for a second, but it almost killed me. How dumb could I be? How unaware was I in that moment? Am I the worst Dad ever? Will he forgive me? These are just a few of the many thoughts that came rushing through my mind. My initial response is to always self doubt/hate and to lash out at others when they question. I think back on that time and have to remember to give yourself a break. You will make tons of mistakes, but I guarantee that you are #1 in your child’s heart.
2. Find Your Release– As a parent you are always paying attention to your child. It is your first priority of your day. Just make sure you also take care of YOU. Find a healthy release that can help you cope with the tough days, the long days, the struggles you’re having, maybe other outside entities that are impacting your home life. There are so many ways to do this. For me it’s the following: listening to music, playing guitar/singing, watching TV, & exercise. There are more things I, and we do for fun, but these few things can help me unplug and breathe. Remember, I am a perfectionist and the tough days hang on me longer. I recently got into my fitness as a way to feel better about myself and to be more healthy. I know that running 2 miles 3 days a week and walking 3-5 miles every day has most definitely helped me. I’ve really enjoyed the two different types of walks I take dependent on the day. The walks as a family are great as we are able to just enjoy each others company, listen to music, and add some small talk. It’s a great way to start our morning together. My night walks have also been very therapeutic. I have very much enjoyed getting to listen to some podcasts and music that I would’ve never taken the time to do in the past. It also lets me destress. Music has always been a huge part of my life, growing up in a musical family. I recently started playing on Facebook to friends and family once a week. Though it’s just for fun it is something I look forward to doing. It’s fun and it lets me share some more of my creativity to others. We have been very much into, “Schitt’s Creek”, as well. There’s nothing quite like a great TV show. Just make sure it’s not the only activity you are doing for release. This year has the additional curveball of a pandemic. That in itself can cause despair, so find your release. Think of things that give you joy. Think of ways you can incorporate them into your daily routine. I promise you it will help you in your parenting and in making sure YOU are doing well.
1.Time Flies– We’ve made it to number one and man is this a good one. Not that the others weren’t great, but this brings it full circle. Time Flies don’t it? Having a child feels like a blur at times. Sometimes it feels as though you may never get past the couple month old stage. Other times you wish the clock would just stop so you could soak it in. That’s life though isn’t it? It’s a race. It’s a journey. It’s our story, so let’s make the most of it. Let’s enjoy ALL the moments. The moments that you could conquer the world to the moments you feel lost. Find those around you that can help you make that story beautiful because we all only have that one story to tell and it flies by. It’s amazing to think that our son, Knox, just turned one. He’s going to start talking one of these days as he badly wants to. Before we know it he’ll be running us in circles. As a parent, you may and probably will think about their future. It’s a natural thought. As a planning type, I can’t help but to think about his future. I’ve thought about Knox talking to me about his toys. I’ve thought about Knox going to school. I’ve thought about what sports and music Knox will like. I’ve thought about what Knox’s first best friend will be like. I’ve thought about his first scrap from falling off his bike. I’ve thought about his first heartbreak. I’ve thought about him driving my truck. To put it bluntly, I’ve thought about his whole future and what that might look like. Here’s the thing though- ENJOY EACH MOMENT. Life is a wild ride and has so many twists and turns along the way. Find a way to enjoy all of it. The great times and the tough time. Before we know it, Knox will begin his own journey to tell his story. That’s the thing about time, you can’t slow it down. You can just enjoy the ride. Jump in and enjoy the view as it continually changes. I know I’m working each day to follow my own advice and I hope it helps you too!
I know you will be a shooting star son. We will always be here for you. Be the author to your own beautiful story.