Kanye, Prince William, Are You Listening? a Dad's 7 Truths About Life After Kids
This summer, the Fraternal Order of Fathers, or FOF (can you tell I just made that up?), welcomes two high-profile new members: pop star and internationally recognized award-show interrupter Kanye West, and the future king of what's left of the British empire, Prince William. I thought I'd let them in on a few things they can look forward to once the buns are out of the ovens.2. "You look great" is a necessary lie.
Your beautiful wife or girlfriend just saw a watermelon-size human come out of her body. She has suffered indignities that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy, and there are more to come. Your cover girl is going to look a little gray for a month or two; she's going to get weird dark bags under her eyes; she's going to peer at old photos the paparazzi took of her and she's going to cry because her body looks and feels completely different. You tell her she's beautiful. You tell her she's beautiful every day, even if she resembles E.T. when he's sick. You tell her even if she's going through a bumpy stretch and tells you to "shut up" because "you're a big dumb liar." That's a sign she probably needs flowers too.
3. Not a morning person? You will be soon.
Kanye has made quite a name for himself on the late-night club circuit and party scene, and I imagine that the future king of England's day starts whenever he damn well pleases. I understand: Back before I had children, I was a night owl. I liked the nightlife, I liked to boogie, and then I liked to sleep until noon the next day. Since having children, the only time I've gotten to stay in bed until noon was when I had pneumonia, and I savored every minute of that antibiotic-resistant pulmonary infection. But it's not so bad. Now I accomplish more before noon than the old me would eke out in a month. I can run, write, clean, and cook all before I have to pick up my daughter from half-day preschool. Doing that much in five hours and still having another 10 hours before I go to bed makes me feel comparatively powerful, like a superhero, Awake-Man. So, Kanye, say good-bye to late nights at Club Jaguar and say hello to 7 a.m. screenings of Go, Diego, Go! featuring Diego's plucky sidekick, Baby Jaguar.
4. The best milestones are the ones you don't know you're waiting for.
There are special, tear-inducing moments in the life of every dad, whether he wears a crown, a leather kilt, or, uh, just some pants he got at Sears: the day your kids take their first steps or say their first words, and the day they head off to school. These moments are huge, but to be honest, it's the milestones you won't find in a baby book that will really change your life. For instance, the day your kid not only dresses himself but also manages to put his underwear beneath his pants, or the day your kid tells you that Thomas the Tank Engine is kind of boring and he'd like to watch something else. One of the most important milestones for me was the day I realized my children had learned to eat ice cream cones like humans and not like the messy ice-cream-eating zombies I had been dealing with for five years. The first time you get to sit and actually enjoy your cone after a half decade of trying to balance your own order while mopping up after their sloppy ice-cream-spilling butts is a moment of chocolate-y nirvana. Savor the little victories, gentlemen.
5. Parents have wild sex too.
Look, your wife or girlfriend is still the same sexy minx you had so much fun getting pregnant. Once she recovers from the watermelon situation (she'll let you know when that is, so you don't have to keep asking), you should bust out the camera or the pith helmets or whatever wild stuff you were up to before the baby and get busy and not feel weird about it. Lots of guys fall into the trap of thinking that after the kids are born, their wives and girlfriends are too maternal and pure now for the crazy stuff. That's dumb. Being a mother doesn't make your wife more Victorian, but acting like it does will make your sex life less fulfilling, and that's not good for the rest of your relationship.
6. Your kids can get you stuff during the years between learning to walk and becoming defiant preteens.
Need a beer from the fridge? Send the kid. Need toilet paper from the first-floor bathroom but are "stuck" in the second-floor bathroom? Send the kid. Want a slab of roast beef from the kitchen but don't want to miss the ninth inning? Send the kid. It's like having a little pack mule with a vague understanding of the English language.
7. You have to be present, not perfect.
When I was in high school, my dad would wear knee-high socks and boxer shorts around the house while my friends were over, he read books during my wrestling matches, and he's a world-class kvetch. But for all the things about him that made me crazy: He was there. Your dad wasn't perfect and you won't be either, but as long as you stick it out, show up consistently, and let your kids know you love them, you're doing fine. Seriously, though, put on some pants before their friends come over.