I’m just going to come out and say it — I was warned. In fact, I was warned many times over. I was warned that “me time” shrinks drastically when you become a parent. People literally told me straight to my face, “do it now before you have kids, things change fast!”
So you would think now that I was armed with this information, the next logical thing would be of course to listen and prepare—and that’s exactly what I did, right? No! Of course not! Why would I ever listen to advice from someone who already has kids and has gone through the experience? That’s crazy!
I actually specifically remember a day about five or six years ago that I ran into an old high school buddy at the gym and received one of these “warnings.”
It was a Saturday morning. We exchanged the normal “whatup bro” pleasantries and then I said something like, “haven’t seen you in a while! I didn’t even know you came to this gym!” and he responded talking about how busy he’s been, and the kids and work, etc etc.
I think I accidentally triggered something because his response was something like, “You’ll see, Jake! One day when you have kids, you’ll see! Things change and getting to the gym all the time isn’t so easy. It will happen for you one day!” I remember him saying the words “you’ll see” multiple times as if he knew with absolute certainty it would come to fruition.
I’ve thought about that exact moment a few times (partly because I’ve always wanted a family and kids and his conviction was so strong that it would happen, in a way it was actually somewhat reassuring). Looking back, it’s pretty obvious he was just trying to give me almost an older brother type of heads up that, hey, life changes dramatically when you have children.
Update: Joe was right.
Like so many other things you’re told of before having your first child, you just assume “it can’t be that bad!” And I hate to even use the word bad, because being a dad is freakin’ awesome—but it’s definitely not always easy and is certainly an adjustment.
Gone are the days you get to do whatever you want, whenever you want. You now have another human who’s entire existence and well-being is in the hands of you and your partner!
Oh, and by the way, this isn’t just any human. This is a human you helped create. This is a human with your genes, your blood and someone whom you love in ways you couldn’t possibly compare to anyone else or anything else on planet earth.
Life as a new father is without question one of the most wonderful things, maybe the most wonderful thing to ever happen to me, but it is different. And I’m not trying to be negative, it’s just what I am experiencing and I’m guessing many others have as well.
I think what I’m struggling with the most is balance of time. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a workaholic. I own a marketing company that involves managing the day to day, employees and clients. Along with my sister, I own an online dog treats store. I have real estate property. I helped co-found an organization helping kids in the community. And like many other true blood entrepreneurs, I have a number of other “side” entrepreneurial ventures. I’m all over the place.
I can’t help it. It’s who I am. I absolutely love business and it’s something I’ve always been passionately drawn to since a young age. I live for this stuff and I live for the thrill of different projects and challenges.
Fast forward, well, now I live for something else too. Two more things, actually. My amazing future wife and my beautiful newborn daughter. Originally only one of those “I live for this stuffs” has become three.
And the thing about having your own entities is that you don’t really get to leave work when you leave work. It kind of never stops. Throw in cell phones, social media and email and you’re basically always “connected.”
Just finding time to write blog entries such as this one is a huge challenge. In fact, I am currently writing this exact sentence at 12:08 am on a Wednesday night with the baby sleeping on my lap (cute dad moment alert!).
I used to be able to get away with doing so many things! Again, I had nobody to answer to. If I wanted to work late, I would. If I wanted to work all weekend, I did. I made the rules.
With that said, and I’ll just cut to the chase — I am finding it way more challenging nowadays. The rules have changed.
I have a beautiful, amazing and supportive partner (thank goodness!) who lets me get away with way more than she probably should. Thankfully, she understands and has accepted who I am. She has accepted I have really big goals and dreams and accomplishing those takes an insane amount of time and effort.
My newborn daughter? I can’t say for sure, because, well, she can’t talk yet, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t give a crap. If she needs her diaper changed, she couldn’t care less that I have an email to respond to. If she wants to be held, she absolutely does not care that I have to process an online order. She needs her dad and she needs him now.
Quite honestly though, even beyond being “needed,” I really do want to spend time with my daughter and I want to spend time with Aralyn. I want to be a family!
I think that’s why this fatherly juggling act is actually much harder than I ever anticipated. There is only so much time in a day or week and how can I pull off spreading my time around to everyone and everything? Is it even possible!?!
I feel like it must be. I know so many other individuals that I look up to who are amazing husbands and fathers, but who are also highly successful businessmen who work like crazy to accomplish their career goals.
In other words, if they’ve managed to figure it out, why the heck can’t I?
I’m thinking it really just comes down to learning the ropes and learning how to manage it all. I am brand new at this. I can’t expect to suddenly be an expert dad or even an expert soon-to-be husband. Like most everything in life, it takes time and practice to be great at something. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect!
Quick story to wrap up this blog post: I’m a bit of a numbers guy, and if you asked to me to put describe fatherhood as a percentage, I say it’s 95% incredible. The other 5%? I think that’s what I am experiencing in going though these first-time father growing pains and time management issues.
I’ve mentioned my “fatherhood percentage” to a few people and one of those people was a business colleague and friend of mine, Nick, who is also a new dad as of seven weeks ago. We were discussing new dad life. I really liked his response. He said “yah, and that 5% doesn’t have to be.”
You’re so right, Nick, it sure doesn’t. And as soon as I figure out this juggling act as a new father—and I will—it won’t be long before I’ll be proud to report that fatherhood is 100% amazing.