The male "father figure" has not been portrayed as the brightest
by Hollywood lately. We've seen Ward Cleaver evolve into Al Bundy,
Homer Simpson and most recently, Modern Family's Phil Dunphy. The
latter three, despite what may be deemed as subpar IQs, seem not
only to put food on the table, but to surround that table with a
massive home. Not bad.
A trailer for the new film "What to Expect When You're
Expecting" shows a group of dads razzing a new dad on his
assumptions vs. reality.
That got me thinking: Why not round up a few dads to talk about
our "expectations" and how the reality turned out.
The answers follow.
President Obama had just been inaugurated earlier in the day. He
promised change, and boy, did I get one. My wife had not been
feeling well, so I told her to see her doctor. When I got home she
was waiting for me in tears. She was helping me take my bag off, so
I knew something was up. I immediately thought the worst. "Cancer?"
She replied in a crying trembling voice, "NOOOOOOOOOO." I
immediately followed up with "Are you pregnant?" She replied,
"Yeeeessssss." She bawled even harder. I burst into laughter, gave
my wife a huge hug and kiss and said, "Holy sh%$, I'm going to be a
Sean Leonard, Chicago
I was cautiously joyful. We had been trying for a few months,
and we were already in our mid-30s. We were excited, but we were in
a state of disbelief, too. The reality is still setting in, and the
more it does, the happier I become.
I would say the immediate, more drastic change for us, was that
we lived in a one-bedroom condo downtown. So we jumped right into
buy house/sell condo mode.
Jeff Garretson, Orland Park
For some reason my mind reverted back to adolescence and all I
could think about was "How am I going to tell my parents?" Then
after realizing that I was, in fact, a grown man, I came to the
conclusions that a) I did not have enough cash on hand to run off
to Mexico, and b) we could handle this.
I totally got into What to Expect When You're Expecting. I
always wanted to be a dad, so I was totally gung-ho about it. I
even knew how many weeks we were into our pregnancy, down to the
day. I remember meeting a good friend of mine's mom and she asked
us when we were due, I burst out with, "We are in week 32 and
heading into the final trimester and everything is going smoothly;
we have passed all of the tests and just registered with the
hospital." I felt like a chick.
I think I was in denial the first six months of Pascale's (my
partner's) pregnancy. I must have been an awful partner at the
time. But would it kill a company to put a dad on the cover of one
of those books so we know it's OK to pick up?
We made a ton of mistakes, but luckily nothing too awful. I
remember the first couple of nights when my in-laws left us to be
with our son for the first time. We both looked at each other and
said: "Are you as scared as I am?" I think any new parent is going
to be scared a little bit. I think we remain a little scared for
the rest of our lives because we want our children never to get
hurt or do anything wrong, that's why we get on these, "No, don't
do that!" or "Stop jumping on that!" I think you have to allow the
notion that no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to
completely protect them. It gets a tad bit easier when you start to
have more children.
It was a surreal feeling, driving home from the hospital with my
new family. I was able to take some time from work and other daily
responsibilities. This was a good thing, because sleep was not in
the cards for a while. I think my biggest mistake was anticipating
that during paternity leave, I'd have all this time to catch up on
projects and DVRed shows.
I remember that first night home with Leo. We put him to bed
around 9 p.m. and thought, "OK, we will see you in the morning!"
Yeah right! He was up every hour, on the hour, blaring. We fed him,
changed him and rocked him, the whole nine yards. We were spent. At
some ungodly hour, I woke up to Leo crying. His diaper was around
his ankles. I remember yelling to Pascale, "What kind of half-a#%
parenting is this?!" Needless to say, we got the hang of it.
Loving my children with all my heart and soul has been the
easiest part of this journey. The hardest part is the beginning of
their lives. Those first 3-6 months are an absolute beast on you
and your partner. Sleep deprivation and patience are tested beyond
belief. I knew it would be hard, but jeez Louise, it is
I can stomach the smell of poop better than I thought I would.
Also I am better at sharing my time than I thought I would be. I've
always been a pretty selfish in terms of how I spend my time. As it
turns out, we really enjoy that kid. What's harder now is being
modest. I've become one of those Facebook parents that posts
pictures and updates that annoy everyone else.
Loving my child has been the easiest. It's amazing how natural
it is. There is a bond that can never be broken … unlike everything
of value in our house since he was born. The hardest part is
staying consistent on discipline. My son is a negotiator and will
WEAR ME DOWN. He knows it, too. It took awhile for Pascale and me
to get on the same book, let alone the same page.
Going on a long-awaited vacation with my wife.
Grandchildren. Yup. That's another thing I get now!
Sleeping in. Why is it on the weekdays you have to drag them out
of bed to get ready for school, but on the weekends they are up at
the crack of dawn?