Finding Myself As a Father

10 months have gone by since the LO (little one) has been here, and I feel like I've become pretty comfortable being his dad/being a dad. I'm comfortable changing diapers, getting up at night, getting up early, playing with him, being goofy, taking him out on my own, going out to eat with him, etc. I thought I found myself as a father.

The first time I took him out by myself I was incredibly nervous. I was nervous because what if he had a fit and I couldn't calm him down? I would have to leave the full shopping cart and run him the truck to try and comfort him. That feeling eventually went away after I started to take him out by myself more often. Eventually taking him out on our little Father and Son Errand Trips became one of my favorite things to do. I got this.

It wasn't until I was around other dads that I started to think that I don't really think I've found myself as a father yet. Up until now, being a father was just me being around my spouse, my son and my family and out and about at stores. I felt pretty confident in my abilities; I am a pretty kick ass dad. The other day we did a introduction, kind of sample class for a local children's play gym thing. Going into it I felt pretty confident but after seeing how some of the other dads interact with their kids suddenly made my start to doubt everything. The class involves playing with objects, sounding out syllables whenever you learn a new word, playing on colored mats, doing tumbles, etc. I start playing with my son like I normally do, super interactive, and goofy. I notice the other dads (And mothers) describing everything. Kid climbs onto a mat, and the parent says 'b-b-b-blue mat, yay', kid climbs up the soft mat-based stairs, they describe the color of each step. Meanwhile, I'm just here encouraging my son to climb each step, not paying any attention to the actual colors of each step. I then realized that this was the first time I was actually a father with his son, around other parents with their children in public and I felt pretty out of place and started to doubt myself. Should I be describing literally everything? Am I a bad parent for not doing that? Am I setting him up to be intellectually stunted because I wasn't describing everything, sounding out syllables and describing colors? Are these other parents noticing that I'm not describing everything like them? Do they think I'm a bad parent? I'm not a bad parent, I actually kick ass, but they don't know that. I know this is all in my head and I'm overthinking everything. It is really hard to not compare yourself to other parents when you're a new parent. I've been a parent for 10 months but really, I'm still a new parent and still trying to find my way.

After that, I did some thinking and this is all 100% in my head. I know that I'm an awesome parent. I may not be doing everything the same way as someone else, and that is OK. I do think I need to go to more places where there are other parents, to get more comfortable with being a parent in public. I see more park trips in our future.

When you have a child, depending on your personality, it is easy to fall into the trap of paying too much attention to those around you, worrying if they are judging you, talking about you, or if you're doing something different. You have to find your own way, do what works for you, and discard what doesn't. Be mindful of advice you are given, but feel free to ignore any advice you get, without feeling bad about it.

On this journey into fatherhood, I am finding my way as a father, and finding what works for me/us. On this journey, there were times where I felt like I lost my old identity. There are times where you feel like your identity was replaced with being a parent. Your old identity no longer exists, and now you're a parent to your LO. I still struggle with this. After thinking about it A LOT, I think I feel this way because you tend to no longer have time to do much of what you did before you had a kid. At the very least, you don't have as much time to do those things as you did before. This can be depressing and can lead to a feeling that you are no longer that person because you are now a parent. I've been working on addressing this by trying to remind myself that I am still the same person I was before, I've just added this new awesome thing called 'being a father' to my "resume" and skill set. I am a father/parent in addition to everything I was before. There are things I do not have the time to do right now, that I would love to do, but I remind myself that those things are not lost, they are just on the shelf for now and I will enjoy doing those things again in the future. Some of the other things, I need to slowly start reintroducing them into my life. Reading is a good example of something I really enjoy doing, but has been hard to do. I am starting to reintroduce this into my life through audio books. While I may not have the time to sit down on the couch/bed for an hour to read a few chapters of a book, I do have time to listen to an audio book while doing chores/nap drives. The same can be said with being a couple. We need to acknowledge that we're now parents, but we're also the same people we were before, we're the same couple but just have this new awesome thing in our life. We may not have as much time to do the things we loved to do before, but they will come again. We can start to slowly introduce things into our life that we did before (going to movies, watching favorite shows, etc). Of course, we may not be able to do those things as often as before, but its a start.