Being a Dad: A First Timer Talks Diapers, Dreams and Doing it Right as Father’s Day Approaches.

This Sunday is Father’s Day. It will be the first Father’s Day for the man we are talking to in today’s interview. Whether you’re a first time father as well, or a seasoned pro at this dad thing, I think you’ll find some common ground with this brand new dad. And perhaps too with some of our other dad-honoring interviews and posts coming up this week.

You just became a dad for the first time is that right?

“Yes! Ava! That’s my baby. She’s nine months old.”

That’s wonderful. Congratulations! What is it like being a father?
“It’s amazing. It’s scary and nerve-wracking. She is so unbelievably little. It’s a difficult conundrum because all I ever want to do is hold her and smell her and watch her sleep, and carry her around and at the same time I feel like she is so small and fragile that I don’t want to damage her. If that makes any sense at all, I don’t know.”

Absolutely. I remember being scared to touch them when they were that tiny, especially the first. There seems to be so much to be afraid of. What is your biggest fear in being a dad?

“Oh I don’t know. I mean now I think about if I am doing everything right? Am I putting her diaper on okay, is it too tight? What if I feed her something and she’s allergic to it? There’s a never-ending barrage of things that go through my head every day. And then at night when she’s asleep, I think about the bigger stuff. What am I going to do when someone makes her cry? Where am I going to hide the body? (laughter) How am I going to keep her from dating the wrong guy? I mean I can only clean my shotgun on the front porch so many times. (laughter) I have dreams, like crazy dreams, where I’m running after her and she’s about to do something wrong and I’m calling her name and she doesn’t hear me and my hands are tied. I just stand and watch her do whatever it is that she’s going to do. It’s pretty crazy. But enough about that….”

Something positive then! Your biggest joy? How about that? 
“Oh man, right now all of them. Every time she smiles. Whenever she does something new it’s like ridiculous. The other day she was sitting on the floor and she picked up her little ducky and said “duck”. It was as if she’d found the cure for cancer. I took no less than 20 pictures, called 5 people, posted an update on Facebook. I’m like, THAT DAD. And I don’t even care.”

I don’t think too many people would have much issue with a doting, loving father. And you have a somewhat unique perspective in that you are a stay-at-home dad too. How was the decision made for you to be home with the baby?
“It was pretty easy really. She makes more. All things being equal, it made more financial sense. Plus she has a position that requires her to be out there in the workforce every day. I have a job where I can stay home with Ava and still do some paid work from home when I have the time.”

Obviously there’s lots of stay-at-home dads nowadays, but there’s still a misguided belief about moms being the ones who “should” stay home while the dad works. Were you concerned at all about stereotypes or stigma?
I’m a 6’3″ bearded man in a Heineken T-shirt wearing a Moby wrap (a baby carrier sling) and carrying a binky, it’s pretty clear that I have no issue with what people think of me. It’s all about my baby and my family and that’s it at the end of the day.”

Well said. What was the dynamic like with your own father when you were growing up?
“Oh it was definitely Ozzie and Harriet.”

How so?
“I’m kidding. It was nothing like that. My dad travelled a lot. My mom worked. They barely spoke for the bulk of my childhood and might not have spoken at all for my adolescence had it not been to conspire on the best punishment options for whatever I had done wrong that week.”

Do you think that has shaped the kind of father you are, the kind you want to be?
“It gave me the perfect picture of what I didn’t want. I love my parents, don’t get me wrong. I just like loving them from 200 miles away. Or over the phone. Or even better via email. I definitely love them the best via email. (laughter)”

Lastly, what will you do for your first Father’s Day?
“I was kind of hoping that Ava and my wife would get together and build me a new workbench, maybe clean out the garage for me. Then I thought Ava could write me a song about being the world’s best dad and my wife could rub my back and bring me beer after beer while I watch whatever I want on tv all day. Oh sorry, I got lost a minute there. Uh, we’re probably going to my in-laws for a BBQ. (laughter) Yeah, it doesn’t sound quite the same does it?”

Happy Father’s Day to you. I hope you enjoy it. And to all of the dads reading, Happy Father’s Day to you too. We moms couldn’t do it without you. Well, we could, but then who would we blame when something goes wrong? 
You’re funny.
So are you.
We should’ve been a team. Damn. Is it too late to send back the one I’ve got?
Pretty sure it is. 
Oh well, Happy Father’s Day then.

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