I’m not sure of the exact moment at which I finally felt like a “real” dad.
It may have been shortly after our daughter was born. But the adrenaline that takes over your body in the moments leading up to the birth of your child tends to stick around for a while, making it difficult to really soak things in and be reflective about the recent seismic shifts in your life. So I’m not sure it really hit me during those first few days after our bundle of joy arrived.
It may have been weeks later, after I had come to grips with the fact that a “good night’s sleep” was going to be an unattainable goal for quite some time. (Note: other parents have laughed at us when we talk about eventually sleeping through the night again, once our child is older. Apparently, parents don’t really ever sleep well, even when your kids are grown. That was news to me.). Adjusting to our daughter’s sleep pattern was certainly a new kind of challenge that reminded me of fatherhood duties but it wasn’t the moment.
I think I finally knew that I settled permanently into my new role as a “real daddy” the day I decided I had a good handle on all of the toys, items and supplies that have infiltrated and taken over our household.
The Boppy: It can always be found in our bedroom, the family room, or any physical space in which my wife and daughter might spend time. Wherever they go, the mystical Boppy isn’t far behind.
The Jumperoo: A massive thing that looks like a halo ring attached to a giant spider. It has taken over a corner of our family room.
The Bumbo: A stoic little contraption found in the dining room that left me puzzled, curious about its purpose.
There were so many tools with made-up names aimed at making our job as parents a little bit easier that it took five or six weeks into my life as a dad to finally have a good grip on the names and purposes of the gizmos scattered throughout my house.
But it wasn’t always that way. The infamous Boppy, Bumbo, and Jumperoo had been in our house for quite some time, even before our daughter was born. I just hadn’t taken the time to figure them out. And that was my first big mistake in my attempt to be a good dad to my daughter.
Maybe I was scared of the unknown, or perhaps I was still (childishly) resentful of the changes to my life as a childless, independent man that were looming around the corner. Whatever it was, it kept me from really engaging in the “child-is-coming-soon preparation phrase”.
I tagged along with my wife for the trips to pick our Baby Registry, but my enthusiasm was sub-par. I helped put together the nursery, but I could have been more proactive in coming up with ideas for assembling it. I had unloaded the baby shower gifts but I didn’t rush to figure out what they were and how they would help us as parents.
Some might think a Boppy or Bumbo or Jumperoo are better suited for moms – not true at all. If I had only known!
- Besides serving its intended purpose of giving your arms added support when feeding your child, a Boppy can be an incredibly helpful pillow rest when wanting to catch a glimpse of SportsCenter while lounging.
- The Jumperoo is a hip-happening lifesaver for any parent who wants to keep their child occupied but needs the use of – (gasp) – both hands. But I’m not going to lie; sometimes I wish they made a Jumperoo for adults. Not kidding.
- And while I haven’t thought of a grown-up use for The Bumbo which is instrumental in giving a seat – quite literally – to your child once he or she has begun to master the art of sitting up, I did try putting our family cat in it a few times, which was quite amusing.
First Timers, what “grown up” ways do you use your young daughter’s stuff for? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.
My adventure with these products could have been a smoother ride if I had embraced them much sooner. I can see where first-time dads, like me, might be hesitant to jump head-first into the world of parenthood and all the trips to Babies ‘R’ Us that comes with it.
But the hesitation only keeps us from starting a new chapter. It bars us from fully owning this thing we call “fatherhood”. It prevents us from being the best dads we can be.
So if you stop by our house these days, you can probably find me using some kind of device made by Tyco or Fisher-Price. I don’t hesitate anymore. The Boppy and me are tight.
It’s all part of my role as dad.
And I like it.
When he isn’t writing his thoughts about fatherhood, you can find Chris serving as an Internship Developer for Michigan State University, helping students connect to opportunities within industry. He is also the founder of the Wednesday Wake Up, a blog about leadership and life, which he created in 2010.
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