I love being a dad. I love my girls. I love their smiles and hugs. Father’s Day … the best day of the year … along with my wedding anniversary, honey.
But Dads out there, do you ever think “My God, what have I done?” Is it OK to feel so disconnected from your newborn? Where do wives get that extra energy to sleep on the couch with the baby when the crib won’t do? How do you handle the self-disappointment when your six-year-old finds out that you ate her last cookie from Nanny?
Been there anyone?
Nobody’s ready to be a father. You experience birthing classes and see the room where “it all goes down.” The heavens open, there’s a flash of light and your wife is crowning. Damndest thing you’ve ever seen.
You learn about Diaper Genies, who don’t grant wishes. Don’t rub that thing three times. In fact, don’t expect anything other than a smell that would drop the strongest of men to their knees. Sign Mr. T and a Diaper Genie to a cage match. I’m talking Pay-Per-View.
Nipples and bottles … I’ve seen my share. Two-day-old infants know which nipple works best for them. You buy bottles, return nipples and ask people you shouldn’t be asking about nipples. Awkward. These aren't big things. I just never expected them.
I remember when my wife first told me she was pregnant. I came home like an overloaded burro, ready to tell stories and share gripes. I was ranting about why something didn’t go as planned at work. Like Bret Maverick, my wife pulled from behind her back what she’d been dealt. Three of a kind. She had three positive pregnancy tests, spread like a winning hand. We were blessed with our first daughter.
A married couple morphed into guardians and I noticed a change in me.
What I experienced after the birth surprised us. Anxiousness and guilt overtook my life. I felt guilty when my wife fed the baby. I felt a constant anxiousness when the baby slept or when venturing out with our daughter. Will the baby stop crying? Why is she not sleeping?
I kept thinking: “I should be able to hand this.” I felt guilty for wanting to keep some of that normalcy we had prior to becoming “mom and dad.” But God gave us a blue-eyed doll. Still, after being able to pick up, drive here and there when you want, and go where and when you want, slowing down proved tough.
Five months after the birth of our second child, those same feelings have returned. Did they ever go away? Isn’t anxiousness about doing your part, keeping up at work, getting rest at night, being a good husband, normal?
Am I the only one feeling this way?
Jay Hardy is the father of a six-year-old and five-month-old in Holly Springs. He's a former sports photographer and reporter for WRAL-TV.