If you’re afraid that being a father means you never get to have fun, you’re right.
That’s not the surprise. But it’s true.
Now, I don’t think I was ever THAT wild before my genetic material started chewing rubber giraffes. Yes, in younger days I’ve done sloppy capoeira on a rooftop or two, gotten into fights with the occasional shrub (they were all asking for it), spent the odd St Patrick’s day on the men’s room floor with a bottle of Jameson and a gallon of orange juice, and I lived in Bangkok for a year, but it’s all relative right? I have yet to become embroiled in a shadowy government conspiracy, I know where all my scars came from, and don’t have any outstanding warrants in countries that extradite to the US (ain’t going back to Sao Tome any time soon, though).
But a new father has to make some adjustments. And by ‘make some adjustments,’ I do, of course mean ‘give up everything that defines you as a modern man.’
Going out? Doing things? Seeing people (adult-type-people)? Adios! I mean, yes, I could be that dad and go out after work and spend the food money on booze, come home blitzed and make my son swear to die for Ireland, and give him all kinds of great material for one-man shows, or tragic memoirs. Or I could just name him Sue and disappear for a few verses. But, strangely, as generous as they can be in the long term, these behavior models aren’t viewed with great favor by responsible society, nor by my baby-mama.
I don’t have the liver for that sort of behavior anyway. I can admit that now.
And you gotta be able to lift the guy, carry him around, etc. Neither parent has the energy to take care of themself and the baby, let alone the other one. Which means the responsible father can’t afford to be convalescent at all. No illnesses, no sprains, no limps, no hitches, no rashes, and you better keep tight hold on every one of them digits.
You can afford to be ugly now, though, since you already got some.
So this means I don’t get to cage fight, or motorcycle joust, or try out any new circus skills I saw on youtube, or basically have antics. And what, I ask you, is Matty without antics?
You have to give it all up. And here’s the surprise – you don’t really miss it.
I mean, yeah, I sometimes wish I could hit a 3pm happy hour, spend the rest of the night playing video games and sleep past 8 the next morning, but I also wish I could be a seductively ambiguous character in Batman who’s sometimes an ally, sometimes an enemy, and always a dinosaur.
When you cease to be a child, you put away childish things. For all the urges towards a faster life, for all the exploits of my friends and workmates, I now find existence without a son to be empty. Like most things that are easier, cheaper and more restful, not being a parent seems hollow and pointless to me now. That’s the surprise. I’ll never suffer existential doubt again, never question why I’m here, or what I’m doing with myself. The answer is pooping all over my lap right now.
Another plus – your good scotch last a lot longer.