The Father of All Posts  

Reproducing is a lot like hiring and training your successor for a job you really care about, in that you have the opportunity to replace yourself with someone better at it than you could ever hope to be. Although actually it's better than that, because reproduction not only enables you to replace yourself with multiple someones, if you train them with just the right amount of compassion and guilt you can avoid ever ending up in a nursing home.

It's been just over a decade since the day I learned I was was going to become a father. In all honesty, I didn't handle the moment quite as well as I should have. Or the 9 months following. And about the first year or so after that. That first year was an especially difficult time due to the fact that my wife became pregnant with our second child about 2 months after the first was born. *Takes a knee, Tebow-style*

Though far from perfect, I managed to hold my own in most baby-raising situations. Not bad for someone who had never changed a diaper or even held a baby before. It helps that my wife is a wonderfully natural mother who prevented me from damaging our children too severely. Speaking of, did you know that a 2 month-old isn't supposed to eat pizza, even if you blend it first?

While scrambling up the steep learning curve of fatherhood, I was also fortunate to have the mental support of my best friend, McLean. This is the same Mclean who helped me engineer the Frankenstein of breakfasts, likes going elbow-deep into cows, and is indirectly responsible for the permanent bald spot on my crotch. Although a few years my junior, McLean "talked me down from the ledge" more than a few times throughout the course of that first pregnancy. He was excited for me when almost none of my other friends were. He listened to me talk about mucus plugs and colostrum. Perhaps most importantly, he constantly reassured me that I was going to be a great Dad and that the odds of me dropping my newborn son were barely worth mentioning.

Now it's his turn. McLean found out last week that he's going to be a Dad. And so the bloodline continues...

Since McLean is living the dream on the island paradise of Hawaii, I can't be as present as I would like to for the birthing of his child and insecurities as a father. I figured the least I could do was give him a head start on the tsunami of unsolicited parenting advice he'll have to feign appreciating for the next 18 years. He's also a smart guy who knows how to use Google, so I've spared him from the same bullshit "Top 10 Things for New Dads" article that recycles every year. 

These are the things I wish someone in the know had told me.

At some point you will accidentally hurt your child. Within the first week of his precious little existence, I nailed my son square in the forehead with a remote control, as well as yanked a wad of hair from his head. In the months following, the list of Dad-inflicted injuries rose to include: black eye, fat lip, and dislocated elbow. Some of these were only half my fault, but all were accidental, and they all made me feel like I was approaching Chris Benoit levels of parental failure. Have no fear. Babies were meant to take a few bumps and bruises as a way mitigate their otherwise complete and total helplessness.

Always have diapers, wipes, and some sort of burp cloth nearby. There is no such thing as "real quick" or "just a minute" when it comes to babies and their ill-timed eruptions. Be prepared for that shit. As in literal shit. In some cases a fountain-like arc of fruity poo, headed straight for your face. Which reminds me, it's a good idea to pack yourself a couple of extra shirts in the baby bag. People always pack their kid 5 changes of clothes, but rarely do so for themselves despite it being just as warranted. Maybe toss a travel size bottle of body spray in there for good measure, because after a while you'll stop noticing the vomit smell (other people won't). Oh, and baby puke is white and curdled, so try to minimize the amount of black you wear until the kid is at least 6 months old.

Middle of the night feedings are simultaneously shitty and fantastic. Shitastic! Stumbling through the darkness to soothe and feed a crying child is sort of like an alarm clock that's been hidden somewhere in your house, and the only way to silence it is by typing in a 47-letter alphanumeric code. Oh, and the code changes weekly. You know what though? Sitting there, in the quiet of the night, with this warm little pudge monster cooing and gurgling is pretty much the most adorable thing ever. Then they pass out on your chest all milk drunk, the embodiment of innocence and vulnerability, and you know you'd punch a thousand elderly nuns in the face if that's what it took to keep that kid safe.

1st and 2nd birthday parties should be just as much for the parents. How many of you remember your 1st and 2nd birthday party? If you said yes, congratulations, you're probably a pretentious asshole. Either that or there was a traumatizing clown accident which was forever burned into your memory. I'm not suggesting you shouldn't have presents or decorations or a cake for your little one to go head first into. Sing them happy birthday and be sure to take lots of pictures for the baby book. But it's not like your 1-year-old has a bunch of friends to invite over; it's primarily going to be friends and family. So get yourself a pony keg, throw some ribs on the grill, and mix up a batch of Jell-O shots. Maybe decide on a designated babysitter. After all, you deserve a party for making it this far too.

Don't take being a parent too seriously. Seriously! This is the most important piece of possibly obvious wisdom I have to impart. There is an overwhelming amount of shit you have to do and remember, but very little of it is life or death stuff. You will make mistakes. You will learn by trial and error. Very few parents are Zen masters. This is no coincidence. Many parents indulge in a daily drink or two. This is also no coincidence. Bottom line: Being a Dad is one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it's also an assload of fun once you get comfortable with it.

To any expecting fathers who might be reading this, I hope these insider tips help . To McLean specifically, I have absolutely no doubt that you're going to be an amazing father. Like Bill Cosby meets Atticus Finch kind of amazing. Which is easily 1.5 times better of a father than I am. They could drop him and that baby on a deserted island for 25 years and it would still grow up to be President. You guys just wait and see.

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