There’s this other thread that asks why anyone would want to become a parent. I thought I’d post my reply here, because I’d like to hear from others who’s experience is similar to mine.
When I was courting TW (That Woman) I was in my mid-thirties. I hadn’t had any kids and, frankly, the prospect of ever becoming a parent frightened me. It’s not that I hated children, exactly. I actually liked children. It’s just that my liking of kids was more theoretical than actual.
I used to live in near-mortal terror of visiting people with babies. They’d thrust this little bundle they loved more than anything else in the world at me and say “Wanna hold 'im?” At the time, if you’d given me the option of walking barefoot on hot coals, I would’ve had to stop and think about it before I could give you an answer. Children, especially babies, are helpless, noisy, smelly, and require more than a little supervision.
Here it is several years later and I’m the father of a 3½-year-old. If I talk to someone about my kid for more than a few seconds, I am siezed with the urge to show them a picture of him. It actually causes physical pain to restrain that impulse. I’ve changed diapers without flinching, cleaned up vomit, walked the floor with a fussy baby at ungodly hours and survived on way too little sleep, all for Jordan. I’m not saying I actually enjoy diaper changing, etc., but I shoulder such burdens without flinching and don’t consider myself a martyr for doing so. I’m glad to do the things that need to be done for his sake.
I also find that I understand my parents a lot better than I did. I get jokes that only a parent can. I take a perverse joy in saying “No” when it’s a better answer than “Yes”. The reverse is true, too. “Yes” is more fun than “no”, just not as dramatic. I enjoy sharing experiences with my son that have no attractino for me by myself, like cooking “Jiffy Pop”[SUP]TM[/SUP] popcorn on a camp stove in the living room so he can see the top of the pan bulge up “magically”.
I feel incredibly proud when I can buy him a gift he really, really likes, especially when it’s kind of unusual. F’rinstance, did you know a stick-vac makes a fantastic gift for a 3-year-old? I got one for my Son last weekend. It’s basically a hand-vacuum with a detatchable handle and a wide nozzle for doing floors. He loved it! He spent the whole weekend picking up his toys so he could vacuum. He even vacuumed the living room after we had popcorn. I hope I can keep this sort of thing up – he’s a lot more cleanly than his old man was (is, too – I hate cleaning, and only do it out of a sense of duty).
Becoming a parent has, in my opinion, made a better man of me. So, who else has changed in surprising ways since they became a parent?