College to Fatherhood in Nine Months (A Look Back)

“It doesn’t come with an instruction manual” is how my mother used to talk about having a baby. I was 21 and a senior in college, SIU, when I found out that I was going to be a father. A barback at Pinch Penny Pub, I made decent money, but not enough. I moved back up north to a suburb of Chicago.

Got my summer gig back. A pizza delivery guy. What was I doing. In hindsight I was nervous and seeking the comfort of my family. I ended up starting a job for a obsolete industry. It lasted a year.

I wasn’t a very good father. I left them at the hospital the night my son was born. I cried when he was born it rocked my world. I had so much on my mind I needed to escape. That was the last time.

I would never leave those two again. No one can ever prepare you for being a parent. All of a sudden you are responsible for a living creature. Not an animal. Not a dog or cat or that goldfish you get at the fair. A human being. I can not stress enough how young I was. Not in terms of age but life experience. There are things that you learn really quickly after you have a baby. Everyone know diapers are not cheap. But what happens when they get a cough and you have just enough for the week and it really doesn’t seem bad. He is acting fine but the cough is really bad. Do you drop the money on your co-pay and have to figure out where the extra $35 is coming from? Or when your water heater breaks after you put a down payment on a house, and you, literally do not have the money for the install.

The life of a father can be all kinds of stressful. Some nights you will NOT sleep. Somedays it will be almost impossible to find the will to get up and face the day. There will be these days. But they come and go. You need to embrace every minute because these days will not last.

I say this with having made it through those times with one and am living through the last of those with my youngest two. I am blessed enough to run a business that allows me to stay home. My oldest did not have this.

There was never enough money. I worked and so did his mother. I worked full time and she worked weekends while going to school. I can not begin to tell you how amazing this women is but that is not the story we are telling now. But truelly I would not have this life without her. I owe her everything that makes my life worth living.

I was never home when my oldest was young, not because I did not want to be around, but because we needed money. And I sometimes resented her for this. The top two things couples agrue about is sex and money. This is truth. Most problems we had originated from one of these two things. We have been together for 12 years this week. Our first date was to a movie Without a Paddle. Those were some of the hardest years we ever went through. Resentment and would-have could-haves were always thrown around. We really meant these things. And some of it was really bad.

Couples counciling helped. We learned how to talk from a sense of feelings and not just speaking anger or saddness. Sounds super hippy but if I could give one piece of advice to any new father it would be to be less prideful and more open to listening because you are not right all the time and you will learn a lot these next few years.

Parenting is about cooperating. Whether you stay together or not, you must be a UNITED FRONT. Otherwise you will both lose. Kids are smart and they will play you off eachother. Talk things through and stratigize.

Also, say what you mean. No one want a wishy washy dad. If you say NO it means NO. This doesn’t mean you can’t say you made a mistake and change your mind, but if you say go to your room and they throw a fit and you end up giving in to the punishment so she will keep quite and not wake up the other children then you just taught her a valuable lesson. Scream and cry and I can get my way. And do not think that if you slip once then they will try only one time after. Nope. They will beat you down for atleast a week.

Cherish every moment. You will never have any of this time back and no one knows the future. Just wait till you start seeing your mannerisms in them. Have fun and when its a tough time just know that this is the stuff that makes you a man.