Fathers have One Job (book excerpt)

Optional training

Being the father is pretty damn easy.  You get do the best part, creating the baby but you don’t grow the baby, you don’t deliver the baby, and you don’t nurse the baby.  You and I have one job, take care of mommy, who does all these things.

It’s easy to take care of them if we do a few things and don’t do a few others.  You’ll need to get weird foods at weird times.  This is fine and you may offer some comfort snacking with your wife as a way of bonding. Remember that she’s feeding two humans while all you’re feeding is your ass and gut.  You’ll need to do some baby shopping, or at least have an opinion.  Here’s some advice, get a good rocking chair.  Not the kind of wooden one on the porches of rural America, but a soft padded one you can fall asleep in.  If you pick this out it will clear you from the bulk of most other shopping duties.

Shopping duties finished, there will be few other things to do as well.  Something around your house will need assembled, you can do that.  Even the least handy guys, myself included, can put together the eight pieces of a crib.  That’s fewer pieces than a jigsaw puzzle any toddler can do.  You’ll also need to practice changing diapers.  If you don’t practice you’ll find yourself wishing you did as you’re trying to decipher which end goes up as your naked offspring prepares to pee all over you.

During the delivery there are a few things you can do.  You can tell no jokes, you can not blow gum bubbles or make any noises .  You can not pretend to be in charge of anything and you can make no comment about being tired or hungry.  Birthing mothers are only a few steps away from pulling the needle out of her arm and stabbing is with it because we smiled funny.

After all these minor jobs are over your real job begins, the baby walking.  This was my job and like Jedi master teaching a young padawan I will instruct you.  To be a baby walker you first pick up the baby, then you walk around with the baby.  It’s not rocket science, it’s not even science.

Your baby just spent nine months in a warm, squishy, moving environment and now it’s not.  It’s like you going from the couch watching reruns of Breaking Bad to being out in the snow and shoveling your driveway.  Now your bundle of joy is dealing with bright lights and loud noises like one of your wicked hangovers.  Luckily for that baby, you did some sympathy snacking with your wife and your chest is squishy, your body warm, and you have two working legs.

In the book The Long Walk, Stephen King writes about a fictional contest where men try to outlast each other on a long walk with the winner getting infinite riches and the losers getting Stephen King style endings.  Your walking contest is against the baby, you will walk them into exhaustion.  They will scream and cry sounds not heard on this earth while you wonder if this is part of the ritual that opens the gates of hell.

Once you master walking the baby around there are three other minor jobs for you to master and all of them are digestive.  You need to learn to feed the baby, burp the baby, and change the baby.  Once you master these you can go to bed yourself knowing you put in a good day’s work.

 This is an essay from a book I’m writing and may not be fully polished.  If you’d like to read more about the process for writing this book, here’s my diary or see more excerpts.


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