How Having the Right Support Can Make Parenting New Life+
They say you are never really ready to have kids. I have been Dadding for 219 days. They were right.
I despise stereotypes, tired old sayings, and most of the things “They” say, but becoming a parent truly was an indescribable and transformative experience. It changed the way I see my wife. She’s much more of a badass than I would have ever thought. (As is every woman who brings small humans into the world.) It changed the way I see my parents. I can begin to glimpse the true sacrifices they made for me and my brother for the last 31 years. It especially changed me. It morphed goals and dreams and made me instantly capable of unspeakable crimes if anything ever causes my daughter pain.
Despite how unprepared I might have been and how wonderfully different my life now is, my old life is not gone. Because of the rock-solid and supportive relationship that my wife and I have and the amazing baby team that we have to back us up, I have been able to become a better version of myself, not a totally different person.
Last weekend, I had my first baseball game of the summer. Playing baseball has been something that has defined me for as long as I can remember. I used to sleep with the new bat or glove that my parents bought for me, I played in college, and two years ago I underwent surgery on my elbow so that I didn’t have to stop playing in my 25+ adult league. It was also something that I was willing to sacrifice for my daughter if necessary. Luckily, that did not have to happen. Instead, this past Sunday was one of the greatest baseball moments I have ever had. I threw my warmup pitches and could feel the nervous excitement of competition that keeps me addicted to the game start to build. As I scanned the field around me to make sure my team was ready for the first pitch, I saw my wife in the bleachers with my daughter in their matching, team-colored, blue and yellow shirts that she had made for them. My usual stoic expression cracked and a smile burst onto my face. I got through the inning while hitting a poor batter in the ribs with a fastball and making an embarrassing fielding error, but as soon as I got off the field, I ran out of the dugout and over to the bleachers to see my family. I kissed my wife and my sunscreen covered, pale little princess and ran back to the game. My daughter has made something I have loved for as long as I can remember, and something I was worried I would have to sacrifice, even better.
In addition to baseball, my daughter has been with me while I brew beer in the garage, play video games with my brother, workout on her zoo animal playmat, and slept on my shoulder while my wife and I cuddle on the couch for a movie. Most of those activities have been altered in some way and will continue to change as she grows older. Just today, I had to make a diving save to keep her from rolling off the deck chair as I grilled dinner. The stationary baby days are over. But by being open with my wife about the parts of my pre-baby life I want to keep, and even more importantly, supporting my wife in the parts of her life she wants to keep, being a Dad doesn’t have to mean not having a life.
Almost every part of becoming a Dad so far has been challenging. But what truly great things have ever come to anyone without a little fight? You might not ever be ready to have kids, but I’m so glad I didn’t let the fear of losing other parts of my life hold me back.