This, of course, means that it's been a full year since I've been a father. Obviously this has made a few changes in my life, the most obvious is that I haven't been writing in my blog nearly as much. I didn't participate in the annual rituals of October's Blog-a-Day or November's Haiku-a-Day. I also haven't done a whole heck of a lot of writing in general, even though I have some ideas percolating in my mind.
I had figured that I would be writing somewhat regularly on the trials and travails of being a new father, but that didn't seem to happen. Probably the biggest reason is that it really hasn't seemed all that hard. Sure, anybody who needs that much attention can wear a fella out, but he's been pretty easy. He started sleeping through the night when he was less than two weeks old, and he wasn't a colicky baby. For the most part, he's a happy little fella, and when he is upset, a diaper change and/or some food will do the trick.
I probably also didn't write too much because it would have felt pretty banal. Don't get me wrong; I get a big hoot out of it every time he does something cute, but I don't feel compelled to write a blog entry about it. Let's face it, everybody thinks their child is more interesting than everybody else does. Also, even if he was more difficult, who the hell wants to read about some guy bitching like he's the first person who's ever been a dad?
Anyway, I figure I'm not being too self-indulgent if I just write a little something on his birthday.
Overall, I think that being a dad suits me. Part of it has to do with the fact that Kirsti is such a wonderful mom. She understands when I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and is glad to take over for me, and I think it's safe to say that she can count on me for the same thing. Still, I like taking him places, and it's been a lot of fun bringing him on my weekly Wednesday comic book store trip. (The girl who works there LOVES him and instantly snatches him from me so she can play with him while I shop.) I also have had a lot of fun taking him to the park with our dog, Freyja, and pushing him on the swings.
When my wife was pregnant, a lot of people were asking me if I planned on taking a lot of time off from work. I felt bad that my answer was no, but as a teacher, I can't really take a lot of time off without there being a serious disruption in my lesson plans. Sure, I can take a day off here and there if needed (which I had to do when he got sick) but you can't always count on subs to cover the material the way you want them to, and the longer period of time with subs you have, the less likely things will go the way you want them to go.
But I have a tendency to guilt-trip myself like crazy, and I worried that maybe I was somehow not doing right by my kid. Eventually I realized that as a teacher, I do have a lot more time off than most people. Shoot, I realized that I'd have more time to spend with my son than my dad had to spend with me, and I certainly don't feel like he was absent in my life.
So, I tried to make the most of it while I got to spend time with him these last few months. Kirsti worked summer school (which we no longer have in our district due to budget cuts) so I spent the first half of the summer taking care of him until she got back. (Not that I just handed him over to her when she got home, but you know what I mean.) Going back to work on the 29th is going to be a lot tougher for me this year than previous years, but I just have to make the most of the weekends and other holiday breaks.
Of course, I'm trying my best to be a good father, and I'm trying to take a "moderation in everything" approach, which is probably an apt description of how my wife handles being a mom as well. I originally thought that I should keep him completely away from TV's corrupting influences for as long as I can, but I've come to realize that a half hour of Nick Jr. in the morning while I get myself ready isn't going to kill him. I also like reading to him, but if he's getting impatient on a certain day and doesn't want to sit through it as long as he usually does, I just let it go in order to keep it a positive experience for him. I also don't feel wracked with guilt if he has hot dogs (well, a small part of one hot dog) for dinner one night, as he usually eats healthy food with plenty of fruits and vegetables. (He loves Romanesco broccoli for some reason - go figure, but I'm not going to question it, as I imagine it's really good for him.)
The other thing that Kirsti and I are trying not to do is make a big deal out of it every time he hurts himself. I know parents who flip out every time they see their kid take a fall. I've noticed that with some of these kids, they start crying really loud AFTER their parents make a fuss, which makes me think that it's more of an attention-getting thing than anything else. Basically my rule of thumb is that if he falls and gets back up without making a big deal out of it, then I'm not going to either. If he falls and then starts to cry, I let him know that I'm there for him by picking him up and letting him cry it out.
Hopefully we're taking the right approach with him. I guess I'll find out depending on how much therapy he needs when he's an adult.