You often hear the phrase “I need a vacation from my vacation.”
I try not to use cliches, but after just a few days at the beach, I need a vacation from my vacation.
Unfortunately, I have a kid. So I’ll never get one.
In many ways, having kids is great.
I can’t think of a lot of examples right now, but I like interacting with the hot moms at the playground, and I’ll probably be able to get a dog out of this whole thing pretty soon, since my son is obsessed and my wife can’t tell him no. So those are some perks. Plus, kids change your perspective and make you a better person and shift your priorities and let you see outside yourself and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Those Z’s are purely figurative, by the way, because the flip-side to that “I’ve never been happier!” coin is that children also steal your sleep, drain your finances, shred your lifestyle, eliminate your free time and, I’m learning, increase your blood pressure.
Everyone laments the speed with which kids grow up. Parents are constantly warning other parents how quickly a kid’s childhood flies by and how, before you know it, the apple of your eye is suddenly in college.
But that’s not what scares me. Watching my kid get older will definitely be bittersweet in the long-run, but I’m more concerned with the now. Specifically, the double-edged sword that is my son’s rapidly increasing intelligence and physical development, and how it affects me on a daily basis. Because every new skill my son acquires brings with it an increase to my day-to-day stress.
It’s been a thrill to watch my son develop, from a baby blob to a silent crawler to a little walker and, nowadays, to a loud, hyperactive tantrum-thrower. But every exciting milestone (first steps, first word, first throw, first “No!”) also opens the floodgates to new bits of behavior that are often more annoying than impressive.
The smarter he gets, the more difficult life becomes.
What is it about kids that ruins everything?
I went into this parenting gig with almost total ignorance, and while it’s been more fun than I anticipated, I have few illusions about the trials and tribulations to come.
In fact, based on what I’ve seen from other parents throughout my life, I fully expect the goodwill I’ve accumulated – along with the optimistm inherent to the naivete of a two year parent – to be largely exhausted and potentially completely eliminated by the time my kid is 18. Maybe even sooner.
But I’m not there yet, and I’m in no hurry to be. So I keep trucking along, only occasionally stressing about the future. Best case scenario I end up like the parents in Easy A.
Worst case? I end up like a teacher.
It was almost exactly two years ago when I discovered I was going to be a father. My level of ignorance on the topic had me pretty nervous, but the nerves are natural. And kind of pointless. Because what I’ve learned after my first full year as a dad is that the key to being a good father is simply this: don’t be an asshole.
Seriously. If you’re already not an asshole, you can skip the rest of this (long) post because that’s all there is to it. Congratulations! Go forth and multiply.
However, I was an asshole. And I didn’t have much guidance when I became a dad. So I offer the following nine-item list (one for each month of pregnancy!) to all the assholes like me who need advice on getting through the nine or so months preceding the birth of the person who will most likely be your end (Oedipus!).