Maybe it’s easy to start with the challenges of a new dad. I mean, it’s obvious, right? Well, the truth is that the challenges are just as rough at every stage of fatherhood. With parental roles evolving, and the ever-widening definition of “normal,” dads can find themselves struggling to adjust. The fact that moms are heroines is undisputed and as old as time, but now that dads are spending increasing time at the changing table, the kitchen sink, and the laundry room, they have a new appreciation for the value of “me time.” That comfy couch in the den, that welcoming leather chair by the fire, and the zen of the garage tool bench are more like respites than an everyday thing. Oh, but what they’re learning! You might recognize some of these “Modern Dad Truisms.”
1. You will have a new understanding of the word “stain.”
You open your bedroom closet and marvel at the fact that every shirt hasn’t been tattooed with baby food or … something even more viscous. But you know now that the days of Italian silk shirts or linen Bermuda shorts are probably behind you. Way behind. Now you spend a fair amount of time in meetings marveling at the immaculate, crisply pressed suits and shirts of your colleagues. “Do they have kids,” you wonder? “Or do they just have some awesome stain remover. I must ask them,” you find yourself thinking. Wow. Is that you, wondering about the power of stain remover? Man oh man!
2. The couch, the dining room chairs, your driver’s seat, even the patio chairs, require a pre-sit check every time.
It seems that Cheerios have taken over your life. You’ve sat on, stepped on, and accidentally inhaled more than you can count. But at least Cheerios can be brushed off easily. The same can’t be said for pureed turkey, boiled peas, or fresh blueberries, and they could be anywhere. They’re like baby food ninjas; silent but seemingly everywhere. Oh, and you’ve come to the stark realization that half-eaten baby carrots can be sharp as cat’s claws. Who knew that carrots would become your latest nemesis.
3. Teenagers may in fact be an entirely distinct species of mammal.
Gecko-esque eye rolling, super-human strength to slam bedroom and car doors, and a stunning lack of vision for mess left in every room of the house, with special emphasis on the kitchen table, living room floor and homework desk. Oh, and let’s not forget the ability to slip 25 square feet of junk under a 12-square-foot bed. You’ve lost count of the weird places you’ve found traces of their existence: potato chips on the dining room light, toothpaste on the patio bench, trading cards in a vase, and a huge smear of glitter hair spray on the bird bath.
4. The chaos ends far too quickly.
Without warning, the cacophony of “Call of Duty” falls silent. The kitchen table seems way too big. You can’t bear to convert their bedroom into that man cave you always swore you’d create the minute they drove away to college. You stare at the Justin Bieber poster on the wall and are moved to tears. “Why didn’t you notice it before,” you think. You even miss screaming through the bathroom door to “Hurry up or you’ll be late to school!” The empty pool toys float sadly by as you sit in your “very adult” Adirondack chair. And the fireplace stares emptily at the living room couch. Even the laundry room, which to your surprise you became quite fond of, has fallen silent. You keep forgetting to pull out one less placemat. The milk carton in the fridge stops draining incessantly. Sigh.
5. Grandkids are the chance to make amends.
Oh, but before long (hopefully not too long) the madness starts up again and you’re back in business.
Fatherhood is perhaps more fun in the form of grandfather-hood. No, not more fun, just new forms of joy. New pool toys, patience for the noise of video games, ice cream for lunch, sitting on the carpet (was it always this plush?) until the grandkids decide the train station is closed, and those knowing, warm, and wonderful glances between you and your kids as they step on some Cheerios and marvel at the sharpness of a baby carrot.