Updated: Jun 18
When we welcomed our first baby, there were a lot of jokes about sleep deprivation. I now understand they were not jokes, but expressions of sympathy from those who had already lost their sleep on the journey of parenthood.
I tried some strange tactics to get our first baby to sleep - like taking him for a drive at 4 AM.
Somebody suggested running an empty dryer with the baby on top of it in his car seat. Looking back, I think that tip might have been a prank.
The only method that actually worked - for all four kids - was strapping them to my chest in a baby carrier and then doing squat thrusts.
Our kids developed healthy sleep patterns and I developed strong quads.
At first putting on his little baby socks drove me nuts. While I put the left sock on, he would take the right sock off. Somewhere in the process, one of the socks always ends up missing, so I started bringing three socks with me!
5 minutes later - both socks are off again.
I tried looking at it from a different perspective. Before you can go anywhere (or leave anywhere you're visiting), you've got to find the socks. It's a scavenger hunt. Like geocaching, but with socks.
The definition of insanity is, "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."
After a week of putting socks on a newborn it was time to stop the insanity.
Don't take for granted the life skills we're imparting every step of the way - learning to sleep, dress, and using the bathroom. Imagine living in a world where bathroom skills hadn't been passed on.
Learning to use the potty, along with not throwing your food while you're eating, are among the first hints of self-control.
And, what about the barge-in?
More than once, I was smacked by the door and tackled by a toddler while attempting to freshen up.
I learned to keep the bathroom door locked as an act of self-defence.
When we had more kids, the siblings would gang up and batter their way through the door like barbarians sacking Rome.
Those first years really take it out of you. You just want to get home from work and veg on the couch with your phone and a drink.
But while you were working all day they were napping (that is to say, recharging).
They return the favour of teaching them how to sleep by never letting your relax again.
As they pull you off the couch to play and explore, savour it.
Though you're bogged down with work and bills and grown-up drama, they can make your life exciting and meaningful again.
The attention (or lack of) we give our kids, shapes them into the people they become.
I remember my toddler dropping the F-bomb for the first time.
He had no idea of it's meaning or it's many uses, he just heard some teenagers use it and tried it for himself.
Thank God nobody laughed when he said it. When a kid knows he's funny, he'll do the routine over and over again. Grown men build careers on receiving laughter and applause.
Sometimes, I'm too harsh on my kids when they do something wrong. Considering they likely learned it from me, I play the role of teacher and tyrant simultaneously.
Fathers help you become what you need to be. But fatherhood can be devastating too. Our cold shoulder makes them drift, our tyranny makes them run.
The world is different than when we were kids. They don't even have to leave the house to "run away," they do it through a magic portal they carry with them. A screen.
A screen that offers endless opportunity. Just keep scrolling and there is always more.
First, they look up to you. Then they look down at a screen.
They learned that.
The joy that you used to give them when you wrestled or danced together - that went away - maybe you were busy or tired.
Remember when throwing them up in the air was such a big deal?
As they grow up, they don't want to be tossed in the air, but they do want to feel that way again.
Fatherhood is sacrificing yourself to form your kids. To draw out the best in them.
We have a lot of goods things in life but sometimes we have to sacrifice one good for another.
Work can manage without you. Call in sick and take your kids to a rental cottage or cabin somewhere. Or, better yet, set up a tent together. If it's a particularly difficult tent to set up, you can drop the F-bomb together.
Hi, I'm Mat! I want you to round up the people you love most and find a special place to enjoy your family photo session. It could be in Trenton or Belleville, somewhere in Prince Edward County, or wherever you like best. Get in touch with me to book a photo session.