With all my might, I fought it. I resisted with the strength of one medium sized man. I searched endlessly for a way to remain as I was. But with fatherhood, it was not to be. This is how my newborn coerced me into growing up, simply by existing.
Beneath this salty exterior, this emotionless, frivolous, and immature exoskeleton, is an innocent boy crying out. That innocent boy is me. And now I have a boy of my own.
I cannot show you a man less qualified to be a parent. A sense of fatherhood did not exist here. I struggle to even take care of myself adequately and my wife can attest to that. Now I’m expected to care for a baby when I cannot even keep a sprig of thyme alive in our mediocre patio herb garden. How can this be? I’ve been responsible for the death of several tropical fish, numerous cacti and houseplants, a couple automobiles, and virtually all of the once-defined muscle tissue on my body. How can I be entrusted to keep another human alive?
Nowhere in my life was there room for a child. I do not like kids. They are loud. They are incoherent. They are messy eaters. They do not pay attention. They are like little old people that require round the clock attention.
My newborn son is forcing me to grow up at a rate similar to which he is growing up. I’m bombarded daily with changes in him. New things he can do and utter and cry about. New nonsensical half-words he mumbles. New movements. New textures of vomit on my shoulder. New smiles and gazes. New abilities to crawl up my chest, head butt me in the nose, then roll sideways between my arm and the couch cushion before I know what just happened. How can I keep up with this? Is this fatherhood?
Once I finally master a task, he has grown out of it and he is on to something new. The challenges are endless and range from things as simple as swaddling and bathing to consoling him during a fit of nocturnal rage tantamount to a Spanish Inquisition stake burning.
My newborn has forced my maturity against my will. I find myself being more responsible. Caring for another human more than my egocentric self. Putting his priorities before my own. Acknowledging him before I acknowledge my wife.
Beer runs have been replaced with diaper runs in all senses of the word “runs.” Serenity is no longer defined as enjoying a sunset with my wife, it is being able to eat a meal alone without worrying about where or what the baby is doing.
I’m ok with who I’ve become and how I am continually morphing. The length to which I’ve grown is miniscule in comparison to what it will be. I’m seeing things that I never imagined I’d be seeing. I knew this day would come. Not the day when I’d become a dad, but the day when something would force me to become an adult.