Congrats, newly minted dad! Now you’re a dad. Next comes eighteen years of fabulous parenting. That’s when you must do what most new fathers do: freak out on a daily basis and wonder what the heck you’ve gotten yourself into, like Kanye West in a bookstore.
Panicking is a fairly common reaction for new parents, most of whom don’t know the first thing about rearing children. The few who do are still terrified by the newly-birthed meatloaves they bring home at two days old.
It’s not just new fathers who are as clueless as Ariana Grande watching Jeopardy. New moms can be overwhelmed, too. They, however, cannot show this. The good news? If there are over seven billion survivors on this planet, you can (probably) raise a child. By following this free-to-you advice, you’re assured to have some success with little Johnny or Suzie (or whatever New Age, hipster, or unpronounceable, made-up amalgamation of letters you’ve chosen for your progeny).
Ten essentials, just to get you started:
1. Try, really hard, then try again. Babies are confusing. One moment they want one thing, the next, they’ve changed their fickle little minds, like tiny drug addicts looking for a fix.
2. Buy so much crap, you feel like a good parent. Let all of the baby items pile up and take over your life so you can’t find your keys, wallet, or sanity anywhere in your home. Make sure your kid gets the best of everything (as recommended by an arbitrary online resource) so you can keep up with the Joneses, that annoying family down the street you think has it all together, but probably doesn’t. Your baby needs a swing and a bouncer and a bassinet and a crib. There is no expense too great for your little leech.
3. Read every single parenting book and memorize the baby diagrams. These pictures are particularly helpful because you won’t have any time to read again – ever. Also, they tell you the parts of the baby so you don’t forget what goes where.
4. Take lots of photos of your friends. Hang them up on the walls around your home and try to picture their faces when you close your eyes. Caption the photos. It is likely that you will not see them again in the near future as being a new parent is similar to being the last remaining leper on Earth – no one will come near you for fear of catching “it,” as if child-bearing is contagious. Remind them that you are still the person you were before you had kids, except that you have a kid, so basically, you are nothing like the person you once were. You are now a diaper-bag—that-looks-like-purse-carrying, bottle-slinging, ABC-singing skeleton of the man you used to be. You won’t even recognize yourself.
5. Buy under-eye cream by the gallon. Since you won’t be sleeping, it gives people at work the impression that this parenting thing is no big deal. You must appear well rested even when you can’t remember the last time you slept more than a four-hour stretch. Use it nightly because missing a single application may result in reality: you look terrible, as if approaching an untimely death.
6. Hire a babysitter to watch your kid so you and the Mrs. (or baby-mama) may go on a date. It’s okay if you’re being very selective, so take your time for that “just-right” fit in your caregiver. You have at least five years before you’ll have desire to go outdoors and see each other in the light of day, let alone have a “romantic” evening. That’s how the first one happened, remember?
7. Don’t make plans. Ever. Pretty much forget about predicting anything. You have no schedule and writing it down will only further depress you.
8. Learn how to answer “when are you having a second one?” in creative ways. For example, say “when you pay for it” or “a second what?” or my personal favorite, “when we go to the pound and pick one out.” Everyone will tell you to have a second. Misery loves company.
9. Know that you will never, under any circumstance, regardless of what you think, matter again, to anyone, but you. Your own parents will ooh and ahh and go ga-ga over every little thing their precious grandchild does. Your wife will look at you, often, as responsible for her corporal demise and rapid aging. You will become (insert child’s name here) father and when people ask you how you are, they mean how is he or she.
10. Most of all, set up a huge support system around you. It’ll be a long time before you recognize that you need help because you’ve tried to self-convince that you have it all together. You’ll need people with more experience than you for placation and to tell you you’re doing a good job, especially when you’re considering running away to Canada to join the Royal Mounted Police or to Nicaragua to traffic exotic birds.
See, dad? You can manage it. Do these things now along with follow every piece of unsolicited and unwanted advice thrown at your exhausted feet, and the next 18 years will a piece of cake, unless you have a second one, then you’re screwed.