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!).
The Asshole’s Worry-Free Guide to Impending Fatherhood
1 – Survival (Baby)
You’re not going to break your baby. Kids are durable. Sure, for the first three months they are utterly terrifying in their fragility, but they have the tools to survive a fair amount of stuff. So unless you’re a total asshole and act recklessly with your baby, you should be fine. Just be cautious and use common sense. And don’t shake/drop/throw/eat/sit on him. Don’t be that asshole.
2 – Survival (Parent)
Your baby’s not going to ruin your life. People have been having babies for years. Having a baby is definitely a life-changer, but it needn’t be a life-ender. It’s like moving from the city to the suburbs: before you do it’s impossible to even imagine; it seems foreign and scary and boring and terrible. And then you do it and, before you know it, while it is somewhat boring and somewhat terrible, mostly it’s just new. And then it’s just your life, and you’re living it. And it’s not that bad. Unless you’re a total asshole.
3 – Money
You’re not going to go broke. Babies cost, that’s just the way it is. And a lot of your dough will go towards diapers and baby food and almost-immediately-obsolete (either by growth spurt or other…spurt) tiny clothes. But not all of it will. Just a lot of it. And I may be nuts, but keeping your kid in food and clothing sounds like a pretty worthwhile expense, so just prioritize a little: it’s called a budget, asshole.
4 – Time
Your time is going to be dominated by your baby. It will be mostly all baby, all the time. But it won’t be all all baby all the time. You can still hang with friends and catch a game and have a drink, you just can’t be quite as spontaneous about it. In fact, the word “spontaneous” should probably exit your vocabulary for a while. You can still have time to yourself, you’ll just need to actually manage your time. Like an adult. And call me crazy, but not abandoning your kid just because you need some “me time” might be worth it. Asshole.
5 – Fun
Fatherhood will be fun. A new, different kind of fun, but fun just the same. No, you’re not gonna get drunk with your kid (yet); you’re not going to take your kid to concerts (at least not any concerts you’re interested in); and you’re not going to watch ESPN and discuss the latest trade rumors. He’s a baby, and there’s not a ton of stuff he can do. At first. But watching as he learns to do just about anything is pretty awesome. Even shitting. Seriously: people have fun teaching their kid to take a shit in the toilet. This is what I mean by “different:” Fun with the asshole!
6 – Sleep
Sleep will be scarce. But getting up at 3am to change a diaper or feed and comfort your kid when he wakes up crying? It ain’t so bad. It’s a bit of a pain, sure, but THIS IS YOUR CHILD. Unless your assholeness is on a scale such that this post’s playful mockery cannot even penetrate it, preventing your child from sleeping in his own shit or from going hungry or being scared is more important than your beauty ZZZ’s. So you’ll do it, and you’ll be a zombie some of the time, but you’re a parent and that is what you do. When your kid grows up to not be a serial killer, he’ll have your ass to thank. Hole.
7 – Stress
You’re gonna be more stressed than you’ve ever been. Because there’s just no stress equal to “I am responsible for a defenseless human being who depends on me for EVERYTHING.” But your kid will relieve stress almost as much as he causes it, and his existence will re-balance your outlook. You’ll care so much about him that you’ll suddenly care a lot less about everything else. Your worst enemy? He ain’t so bad. The ants and the grass? They’re just doing their thing. It’s stressful, but it’s also a little zen. And Buddhists are about as non-assholey as it gets. Except for Richard Gere.
8 – Fear and Loathing
You’re gonna struggle. You’re going to become overwhelmed at your new responsibilities. You’ll get scared that you don’t have what it takes or that you don’t make enough money, scared you’ll lose your identity and your free time, your sex life, scared about crime and sickness and other things you previously spent no time thinking about. You’ll start judging, too – yourself, your wife, other parents, other kids; anyone you spot mistreating a kid even a little. And you’ll swear you’ll never fail your kid that way, in any way, but you’re scared you will. And you probably will, at least a little. But you mostly won’t, unless, of course, you’re an asshole. Which brings us assholes to the good news…
9 – Being an Asshole
You’re not going to be such an asshole anymore. (Unless you’re the kind of asshole that loves his kid so much he can’t stop talking about him and completely loses himself in fatherhood, becoming totally unrecognizable in the process. There are worse assholes to be, but that’s still pretty lame.) Just having a kid will change your life and perspective enough – in good ways – that being an asshole just won’t come so easily anymore. Not when you have to be an example, and not when your kid’s existence just generally makes you happier. So relax a little, asshole.
Come to think of it, once you have a kid, the drive away from being an asshole is so strong that it basically eliminates any of this list’s asshole-related issues. Of course, you need to actually have the kid before this takes effect, so hopefully this list will ease some anxiety while you await your due date. Because, so long as you prioritize your life, and relax a little, having a kid is not that hard.
Unless you’re an unrepentant hardcore dickface, which means you’re probably going to be a hardcore dickface to your kid, in which case you shouldn’t have kids in the first place. So you can stop worrying about it now, too.