Adventures In Babysitting
Curling iron – check. Hair dryer – check. Make-up bag, – check. Seven pairs of shoes – check. My wife backs out of the driveway and heads off into the distance for a two-night getaway with her girlfriends leaving me alone with our 6month old daughter for the first time. What horrors await me this weekend?
I didn’t really have a problem being alone with our daughter, in fact I felt it was a good opportunity to really get to know her on a daddy/daughter level without the distraction of the mommy element. As I stood in the empty driveway I thought there are probably a lot of guys out there that would be filling their pants as their 6month old filled her pants, watching mommy drive away leaving you both to deal with whatever issues come your way. It’s one helluva wake up call knowing that you’re on your own for the first time, a new parent. Most dads are used to, and quite content, playing on the second team waiting for moms (the first team) to give the signal to come off the bench.
Now, we all think that we have unique kids, different from every other kid in the world. Realistically, kids are pretty much all the same… of course mine’s not. She is different from every other kid in the world! She’s my little angel, my bunny, my pudding pop, monkey girl, snuggle worm… etc, etc, etc. Since she was about 6 weeks old she slept through the night, and I’m talking from 10pm till 9am without a peep. Amazing ain’t it?! She cries only when she’s tired and even then it’s only a whimper. She eats like a horse (gets that from her dad), smiles and laughs and sometimes lets out the highest pitched squeak which makes me melt with affection. I love that squeak! Over the past 6 months I’ve been at her side I’ve come to find that she’s a lot easier to take care of at this stage than I ever thought she’d be.
I’ve seen a lot of crazy things in my life and I’ve been under unfathomable stress on many occasions but I’ve always been able to handle myself with a steady hand, cool head and even, dare I say it, grace! But before I had my own child I thought I’d never in a million lifetimes wanna be left alone with a 6month old. I was certain I’d never be able to deal with it.
When you have your first child something happens inside of you as though someone flipped a switch and you suddenly change into daddy mode. You no longer care about that Camaro you wanted, backpacking through Tibet, having the guys over for a BBQ or upgrading the surround sound system. The only thing in life that matters now is your child. It’s mind boggling how quickly all the other stuff goes away. Everything else that was once important to you now takes a backseat to parenthood and it’s a great feeling. It’s funny how cluttered your mind becomes when you focus on material needs and how clearly you think once you become a parent. Don’t get me wrong, it’s damn hard work but it’s one of the few things that truly makes you feel like you matter in the world. I could go on about this forever but that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. The point is: don’t worry about not knowing what to do beforehand when you see those impending moments you’re going to be left alone to fend for yourself and your child. Even if you’re normally a complete idiot when the time comes your mind will kick into survival mode and common sense will get you through it. Your child will tell you what they need and although it’ll sound like an alien language you’ll get it.
Talking care of a baby isn’t that difficult, we, as dads, make it difficult by panicking. Just take the time to listen to what your baby has to say. Even if you haven’t been paying attention to mommy when she’s catering to baby’s needs you learn through osmosis, you pick things up just by being there. Better yet take part in it. My wife and I actually race to our daughter’s bedroom to change her diaper or to get her out of bed when she awakes. Seriously, we do!
So to all the new dads out there, or the soon-to-be dads, don’t worry about it! Just dive in! Your kid is a lot smarter than you realize. And remember that time flies by so fast. Have fun with your baby and think of how awful it’d be to end up one of those dads who looks in the mirror 20 years from now and says, “I wish I spent more time with her when she was little.”