New Dad, New Job, Who Dis?

Oh my gosh. This blog still exists?

Realizing I haven’t updated this space in months (pretty far off my personal goal of penning a weekly blog), there has been a lot happening in the So This is Fatherhood household.

The largest of which is this: we’ve grown by one! In May our family expanded from three to four with the birth of our second daughter, so really I am asking myself all over again, “so, this is fatherhood?” To which I have responded, “So, this is fatherhood.”

Having a new baby is kind of like starting a new job. And, it’s easy for me to make this comparison because that is also a new development in the So This is Fatherhood world.

With a new job, you don’t really know what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis until a few weeks or months in. You have the basics because – hopefully – you’ve done your homework, studied the job description, and have an idea of what is expected of you. But, really, you show up, learn the basics, and then hope whatever unique talents you bring to the position start shining through.

With a new baby, you have the basics because you’ve read books, talked to people, or have done this once before, but you don’t really know what is happening on a daily basis because each child is different. It takes a few weeks, or months, until you find some kind of groove.

People will ask, How’s the new job?

Typically you’re still learning, meeting people, figuring out team dynamics, how your manager operates, and the new challenges it brings.

People will ask, How’s the new baby?

Typically you’re still figuring out how much this baby sleeps, eats, positions she likes to rest in, and the new team dynamics of your family.

For both questions, the response is always Good.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the questions, or that people are taking an interest in aspects of my life. It’s just that there’s not much to tell for a few months.

What are you going to tell people who ask? The job is good, I’m really taking advantage of this onboarding experience because it’s super slow, so I’m really only putting in six-hour days in the office while I figure this all out. I can tell there are some opportunities – I mean, it’s why they brought me in – but I have no idea what those are just yet because I truly don’t know much of what I’m doing on a day-to-day. My inbox, though, is super light which makes me happy!

Similar with a new baby. Baby is good. She’s doing baby things. Sleeping for an hour or two at a time, dirtying a lot of diapers, crying, you know – what’s to be expected. As the dad, I am missing a few key biological ingredients to really having that bonding time with her since my breasts haven’t figured out how to produce milk. But, overall, it’s fun over-packing the car for a trip to the grocery store … because you never know!

Maybe I have the wrong perspective on this, but in the early days of a new job, or being a new parent (again), you’re just hoping instincts take over.

Maybe I just take a slower approach. I know in my professional career that once I have my feet underneath me and better understand what’s happening is when I can really shine in a job. Asking questions, having better overall knowledge of the ins and outs, learning what makes each individual tick. Even in my first job at McDonald’s, this was true. I didn’t know how to really serve food until I had worked at each spot. Making burgers to meet a request, learning how long it takes for fries and nuggets to cook, why my boss was stressed over things.

The same is true with our new baby. I know my strengths as a father don’t really come until I can better interact with my child. Right now, as parents, our job is to just keep the new baby alive. With my six-year-old, my job is to teach, explain, help her explore, and learn new things about the world. Passing on experiences, having conversations, and interacting with her are all things that seem to better come naturally to me. Holding my newborn is a wonderful experience, but if she’s crying I can’t just ask What’s wrong? I’ve got to go through a checklist: diaper? hungry? uncomfortable? tired? pacifier? I’m sure there’s a few more that I am missing.

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But, as Ferris Bueller said, Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.

Whether it’s experience, or age, or something else entirely, I am trying to appreciate what’s happening right now with my new baby. Life does move pretty fast – every experienced parent says that – and with a six-year gap between children, we are experiencing some of the best of both child’s worlds right now.

And with work, I am trying to just soak up as much info as possible, stopping and looking around, because one of these days I am going to be called upon to do something and expected to know the answers, and I will have to deliver.

Flip both of those previous paragraphs and they could be about the other. With work, trying to appreciate this slow on-ramp to better understand things and use the time to get my feet underneath me. And with our baby, trying to stop and appreciate this new miracle because soon enough, as a parent, you’re going to be expected to know the answers and you’ll have to deliver.

Thinking about that Ferris Bueller quote, as each of these new things progress (Life moves pretty fast), I’ll want to make sure to appreciate the moments both big and small (stop and look around once in awhile), because with each new experience comes something wonderful – good or bad, you should always be learning.

So, I don’t want to miss it.

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