At some point, early on in this crazy adventure called Fatherhood, I realized that I put a lot of unnecessary expectations on myself. I felt like a real world superhero. I seemed invincible, unstoppable, and beacon of hope. It didn’t take much time for Boy Wonder to bring my ego down a few pegs.
It happened a week or two after we first brought him home. I had been watching him sleep in the middle of the night and it hit me that this little guy was here forever. This wasn’t going to be like watching my best friend’s puppy while he’s out of town. I knew there was no “giving him back”. But I didn’t know that there were no coffee breaks.
That’s when I understood that saving Gotham from the Joker wasn’t a one time thing. The Joker would be breaking out of Arkham Asylum every morning at four thirty for the rest of my life, and he would bring all of his rogues gallery along for the fun. I was running ragged trying to keep up with him.
Social media doesn’t help either. How many times have you scrolled past posts from those parents. You know the ones I mean. They’re the picture perfect, Stepford Moms and Dad. They’re the ones who make fresh green juice for their kids every day, post beautiful Instagram pictures of the healthy lunch they packed for their sidekick, and are constantly up on the latest parenting trends. It was impossible for me NOT to feel like a lousy, lazy parent when I compared myself to these monsters. I was beating myself up because I wasn’t taking Boy Wonder to baby yoga classes or going to pick fresh blueberries before the sun rose. I wanted to be the perfect parent so bad that I couldn’t see all the good things Bex and I were already accomplishing.
That’s when I knew that I set my expectations too high. I needed to refocus on what was important to me, to Bex, to our fresh little family. So what if we don’t hit every baby fad with all the other parents?
“Oh, you aren’t feeding him 100% organic spinach?”
“No we’re not Nancy. We also don’t smoke money like it’s top shelf weed.”
We are still doing great things for him, like making his food fresh every week. Bex breastfeeds him way more than we use formula.
Sometimes, I would worry that we weren’t reading to him enough. Then I remembered that there are some parents who use the television as a babysitter. Same goes for the phones. I am probably on it around him way more than I should be but if he crawls up to me, cries, or wants my attention, that phone disappears really fast.
So what’s my point? What are my expectations? After a lot of thinking and simplifying, I’ve just got one expectation. That is – I’m there when he needs me. I know it sounds too easy, but it’s also easy to forget in the moment. Let’s say I’m in the middle of the grocery store and he starts screaming his head off. Am I going to get mad and try to shush him up so I can finish this shopping or am I going to get my priorities straight? What about when I’m writing a blog post and Bex isnt’ here to run interference? The web will wait. If he needs me, I’m there.
So, if I am tasked with putting the Joker back into Arkham Asylum over and over again, then I need to do it in a way that makes sense to me, not the way social media tells me I should.