1. Dad Strength: If you’ve ever seen a 240 lb dad who looks like he’s never seen the inside of a gym dash into the middle of a busy road and effortlessly scoop up two toddlers, you know what I’m talking about. There is something about most dads’ age and experience that gives them the grace and ability, no matter their level of conditioning, to outperform your average jacked 18-year old in pretty much any feat of strength. It’s not clear where this comes from. It could be that added heft gives dads a strength advantage by virtue of having more mass to throw around. It could be years of living in the same body and therefore being accustomed to its strengths and weaknesses. It could also just be the sheer determination dads have to handle fatherly responsibilities, whether it be to move a pile of bricks or save a child from oncoming traffic. Most likely, it is a combination of all three, and, unlike unicorns, we know it exists.
2. The Power to Dream Again: You are supposed to live your life without regrets, or at least that’s what we’re told. But, we all have them–it’s just a matter of how we cope with and learn from them. But, imagine if you did have that time machine. Imagine if you could go back in time and prod yourself to try harder in college, pursue a sport you had an interest in, backpack across Europe or Southeast Asia (while you still could–-see the post below, re: perspective) or stave off some event that had a deep, even catastrophic effect on yours or a loved ones’ life. Wouldn’t you hop in that time machine? I bet you would. You see, kids, I posit, are sort of like a little time machine minus the buttons and levers in that you can play a role in molding a future that as of that time is yet to be determined. It is a renewal of hope and an invitation to think big. Imagine what your little one can accomplish with the benefit of youth, a solid support network and no responsibilities to tie them down yet? I imagine quite a bit, especially if you can help them steer clear of some of the minefields (or lapses in judgment) you encountered.
3. Freebies: Society seems to take note that you have just (or will) become a parent. Some may even say it encourages parenthood, and I am not complaining one bit. The freebies started when, a full week before our daughter was born, we unexpectedly received our first free shipment of Similac. We didn’t question Similac’s methods of finding out how we were expecting, as creepy, instrusive, or big-brotherish they might be. We were just grateful for the handout (and Similac, if you are reading, keep them coming!). That’s when we knew things would be different. At the hospital, I received free room and board while my girlfriend recovered. I even got discounted parking. Then, when we recenly booked our first flight, I was surprised to find out that our daughter could fly free so long as one of us held her in our laps. Even the government takes note and gives us various tax breaks, such as being able to declare an exemption from federal withholding tax and certain tax advantages for 529 plans.
4. Attention: When we are children, attention is heaped on many of us even if it would be totally unwarranted by adult standards. Rooms in our homes are festooned with our crappy attempts at artwork, trophies and plaques for otherwise unremarkable athletic, musical and other accomplishments are proudly displayed, and relatives dutifully ask about our interests and hobbies at family get togethers. All of this gives you the general feeling that people care and that you are relevant.
Then, adulthood happens. Things are now expected of you. You don’t get a participation trophy for showing up at work and you most decidedly won’t get a pat on the back from Aunt Mae for coming third in your summer softball league. In fact, no one really notices unless you do something wrong. And so this is what I came to expect of adulthood–until my little one came along.
For the last 6 months, everyone seems to “care”. Old ladies and young men smile and open doors. When we dine out, we usually get a booth or otherwise roomy, car seat-friendly accomodations. Then there are the aforementioned freebies. Even though this isn’t really about me, I feel relevant again, or at least appreciated. Go parenthood!
5. Perspective: Having a child has a profound ability to make us look beyond ourselves. You see, as children and young adults we are inherently selfish. We are continuously preoccupied with solidifying our identity and finding our place in the world. Youth demands it. After all, how can we fully realize our goals unless we know what they are?Having a child has a profound ability to make us look beyond ourselves.Click To Tweet
The issue is, that for many social, cultural and economic reasons, the childhood “seeking” phase of life has been extended, it seems, almost indefinitely for many young adults as they remain free from real responsibility and/or adversity. This is both a blessing and a curse and at the core of the Millennials’ existential crisis. In a vacuum of responsibility and/or adversity, what do we look to to give us a sense of purpose? Aside from work, we quibble over what pic makes us look best on Facebook and blow ours (or I suspect, for many of our more “fortunate” peers, our parents’) money on curing our wanderlust (after all, “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” (vomit!)).
If it doesn’t beforehand, this charade comes to a screeching halt when you have a kid. Unless you are independently wealthy, you need a job. You ideally need a good one (which requires hard work, career jockeying and at least a little bit of luck) to provide for your child. You need to be especially sensitive and attentive to the needs of your significant other, who is your partner in raising the child: No more disappearing on that impromptu Vegas trip with your buddies. Most importantly, there is a very little and helpless person that can’t feed, bathe or defend herself living in your house.
In short, YOU no longer take precedent, and this is a key realization that can’t be understated. While this may be crushing news for the hopelessly self-involved, it is in fact liberating and simplifying: You can now stop worrying about impressing others and start working on building a career, wealth and a family.
What are the top 5 things you like about being a new dad?