Your life is about to change radically forever. And so are you, but that’s okay. Here’s a glimpse into your post-child future.
It is true that new parenthood is rapid series of bewildering failures for which it is impossible to fully prepare.
The great philosopher Mike Tyson declared that “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”, and parenthood is not so much a punch in the mouth as it is an unexpected nearby opening of the Arc of the Covenant.
Here’s a glimpse into your post-child future.
1. Nothing disgusts you anymore
The soul-scarring moment when your kid’s crap transitions from the benign, almost sweet-smelling shits generated by breast milk to actual, pungent turd is a Rubicon even Caesar would un-cross if he had the chance. But a month later, you’ll mop up an Exxon Valdez worth of yellow-green toddler faeces with one tatty, holed baby wipe without blinking.
2. You’re a sook now
In my pre-fatherhood life, the only time I genuinely recalled weeping over maybe two decades was when I broke down trying to deliver a eulogy for my grandma. And a few times in my twenties after an MDMA weekend, curled up on the lounge of a Sunday evening.
Now, I’m like that all the time. Families die tragically hugging their kids in Greek fires? Waterworks. I accidentally watch an A Current Affair sob story? Blubbering. Polar bears starving on dying glaciers? Eh, there’s something in my eye. I’m now an open conduit to empathy I’d once avoided. It’s okay, actually.
3. Actually, the news will cut you up
Trump. Wars. Drowning refugees. Enthusiastic indifference to the climate change that will doom your child, but we’re arguing about whether Kendall Jenner is a self-made billionaire or just a billionaire. It’s all enraging, except the sob stories (see No.2).
4. I can’t drink
Non-parents are bulletproof after booze not because of some magical childlessness, but because of consistency. They can sleep in, or grab an afternoon weekend snooze, or head back to the pub, or play GTAV all day. Eight beers on a Tuesday night? Easy! No more. Now I feel hangovers for days, and I just had three beers watching the footy on Friday night.
5. You thought you’d just be tired. Ha.
There’s an episode of the brilliant British sitcom Peep Show in which the typically wobbly English everyman Mark — played by comedy god David Mitchell — tries jogging. It goes well. At first.
“Hey! Wow, I’m actually good at this,” he thinks to himself. “Maybe I’m a natural — yeah, I’m a jogger! Of course, there had to be a sport for me, I just never realised. I’m a natural! I’m unstoppable JESUS, is that a stitch? F*ck, I’m gonna be sick, I need to walk. Oh, I think I’m gonna puke, I’m literally gonna die, ugh, what an idiotic boob I was back 10 or 11 seconds ago.”
For me, new parenthood was like this. Kid home, around-the-clock-feeds, I’m kicking goals and I’m not collapsing! But incremental tiredness builds, because your sleep deficit grows exponentially. Eventually, you will look back the four minutes shut-eye you got on the floor beside the crib with your head on a used nappy bag yesterday as a half-recalled period of bliss, lost in the mists of time.
6. The Dad Bod is real
Yeah, you’re not going to the gym anymore. “But my fitness will help me dad!” you might think. “If I feel better, it will be better for everyone. Exercise is a mood lifter! I want to be a good fitness example to my child!” Look, Men’s Health guy, you’ve eaten for a week is Things You’ve Defrosted with the occasional side dish of Things He Dropped Onto The Floor, Maybe Yesterday, That Toast Was Really Hard. Resist the tapering off of the fitness regimen by all means, but eventually that sort of ‘me time’ will feel selfish.
7. Messes. Everywhere. Tips are tidier
Pre- and post-child pictures of every room in your house will not be quite as stark as before and after pictures of Aleppo. But almost. Maybe you couldn’t cope with mess like this before. Suddenly you can. You have to.
8. ‘As a parent…’
You know those women you once despised, who’d preface moronic opinions with “as a mother…” as if that gave them a deep and special insight? You’re one of them now, in dad form, even if this only frames arguments in your head. You need to refrain from vocalising this, as did poor, stupid, racist Sonia Kruger, and remember what you sound like. As a parent, you have to learn to think things through a couple of times before you speak. Which can be hard, if you’re, like, apocalyptically tired, or an idiot, or if you’re like Sonia Kruger.
9. The world is brighter
You’re the conduit through which new eyes see the world. Maybe it’s just because you’re being gently enthusiastic about everything: “Whoa! Dinner, yum! Whoa, let’s wash our hands! Hey, look, a helicopter!” But you see everything anew, like an idiot, or an amnesiac who’s just forgotten cynicism. It’s magical.
10. The love is overwhelming
I expected, in a sort of academic way, to love the little git once he arrived. But something happens. It’s as seismic a difference as when you’re in a post-relationship-breakup funk, and you hear a banal love song, and suddenly you’re feeling Chicago’s f*cking “If You Leave Me Now” so deeply it’s like a cold stone in your chest. Only instead of that, it’s joyful.
Man, I go into my kid’s room at night just to watch him sleep, like a weirdo. I can’t get enough of his flailing chubby arms and his hugely-jowled Arthur Sinodinos face and how he insists I carry every rock he picks up from the gutter. I would fight 1986 Mike Tyson for him, in an instant. Or debate philosophy with him. Preferably the second.
READ MORE FROM BEN SMITHURST:
- 15 crappy things you’ll hear as a new dad
- Seven things expecting dads can do to keep their partner happy
- 5 myths about dads that are total BS