Day 3: Skills for New Fathers

“Much of life, fatherhood included, is the story of knowledge acquired too late: if only I’d known then what I know now, how much smarter, abler, stronger, I would have been. But nothing really prepares you for kids, for the swells of emotion that roll through your chest like the rumble of boulders tumbling downhill, nor for the all-enveloping labor of it, the sheer mulish endurance you need for the six or seven hundred discrete tasks that have to be done each and every day. Such a small person! Not much bigger than a loaf of bread at first, yet it takes so much to keep the whole enterprise going. Logistics, skills, materiel; the only way we really learn is by figuring it out as we go along, and even then it changes on us every day, so we’re always improvising, which is a fancy way of saying that we’re doing things we technically don’t know how to do.”
― Ben Fountain

I remember keeping my mother on speed dial the first year of our firstborn’s life. There were so many things I had seen her do with my younger siblings that I had simply taken for granted. Sure, I had picked up some skills along the way, but there were things I had never been asked to do.

I remember when it came time to bathe our son. The thought struck me with terror. Probably something to do with the fact that my younger brother almost drowned in the bath on his first birthday, all while I, not much older than he, watched on oblivious. “Tyler’s blowing bubbles” I am quoted as having said.

Imagine my relief when I realized that you can sponge bathe a newborn, or that yes, there’s a bath for that.

Every Tuesday, I’ll be talking about a new father skill that I had to learn when I became a dad. There’s a lot to know and many things I’m still learning. You’d be surprised how much accomplishment you feel when the little guy burps for you after a feeding. It’s like an audible badge of honor.


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