No matter how much I psyched myself up for being tired like this again, it sucks just as bad now as it did then.
Then was in my 20’s when I was an over-enthusiastic young buck at a residential summer camp in Maine. We’d kill ourselves trying to be more energetic and creative as humanly possible every day for eighteen hours a day over the course of eleven weeks. In those eleven weeks, we’d transform from college kids into mentors and leaders. On our days off, we’d morph into heroes and gods. All the while we never fully understood the foundational life skills we were mastering. Mostly, we were all just big kids who worked hard and played hard (harder sometimes). .
I never went to camp as a kid. I did a few overnight baseball camps, but not “camp” camp. Not sleeping in tents and cabins while making fires and learning stuff in the woods. Honestly, my sister bullied me into working as a camp counselor. I was a freshman in college planning on being a beach bum that summer when she forced me to have a conversation with a complete stranger. We talked about SEC football for an hour. Then he ran through a few nuts and bolts and mailed me a contract.
In many ways, fatherhood began at camp for me. It’s where I actually made my bed and squared away my laundry daily. It’s where I learned to work with peers towards a common goal (often, how do we get fifteen six-graders to take showers, brush their teeth, and put away their laundry in about thirty minutes). And it’s where I met my father-in-law for the first time.
The old man was (still is. Man’s a legend) the Maintenance Director for this little gem in Vacationland. And after working there as a counselor for three years, I learned he had a daughter who’d be working in the office my fourth summer. Eight years later we got married.
She’s five years younger than me, so we weren’t exactly in a hurry to have kids. We openly talked about how much we looked forward to children, and we both agreed they were in the future. But we also wanted to enjoy being married and enjoying that whole universe for a hot minute.
I walked in from my evening commute one day in mid-November and my wife was exiting the bathroom with the guiltiest look on her face. I spoiled her master plan of surprising me with some cute contraption, riddle, or scavenger hunt to break the news. However, she had just finished the test. I happened to enter the apartment in that magic window of time between peeing on a stick and feeling the greatest sense of joy (or relief depending on your current situation). She has no poker face. She told me what she was up to, and we checked the results together.
Skip ahead eight months and we’re here.
And it’s terrifyingly enjoyable.
Nothing in a million years will ever prepare a man for the moment he sees his daughter for the first time. Mom’s get a head start on that connection with the whole gestation process. I’m not jealous about that, and quite frankly, on behalf of dudes everywhere, we have no business in that game. That’s some impressive shit carrying a baby to term and then bringing her into the world. Still, all the cliches like that are true. The feeling is overwhelming, and time seems to stand still while you look into the future.
I would’ve started on Day 1, but staying awake or vertical wasn’t in the cards after the boss sent me home to check on the dog and catch a little sleep.
And that brings us to day two. The feeling hasn’t left either. It’s as if the universe has shifted or the Earth’s axis tilted one more degree. Something’s just different about everything familiar. This is the human equivalent of upgrading from Mono to Stereo or the introduction of the electric guitar into popular music. The chords and words might be the same, but the experience is on a whole new level.
Changed my first diaper today. I’d been slithering through life without changing a nappy for the better part of four decades now. Early on, I developed a rule: If we are not related by blood, I’m not changing it. I didn’t do this to be callous or heartless, and quite frankly I would’ve said yes to anyone who asked. But no one ever asked me if I would change the diaper of their kid. They’d ask me if I wanted to or say something like, “you need to learn sometime”; to which I would reply, “sometime sounds remarkably similar to my kid’s birth”. The hardest part of it was this little bag a bones is a lot stronger than I expected. But I managed. #warrior.
In reality, my wife’s the warrior. It’s been incredible to watch her these last few months and especially this week. I’m in awe of her ability to do this while working and putting up with my nonsense. As if I wasn’t already smitten.
Day 2, in the books.