You knew that your life would forever be changed when you became a father. No one, however, told you that you’d be living like a homeless person, simply because you have a kid.
There’s a silent thing that dads have: we can see it in each others’ eyes, or maybe it’s in their aroma. Single guys give each other crap about not being presentable. But once you’re a father, you can walk into a social gathering looking like you just had dinner and a nap behind a Carrow’s dumpster, and other fathers know – it’s the mark of a real father to look like a disheveled lump of crap.
I know what you’re saying: “But Zach, I’m totally put-together and clean-smelling, and I’m a father!” Well, the following are the 5 ways that fatherhood has made you live like a homeless, train-hopping hobo, and I bet you do more of them than you think.
1) You Eat Table Scraps Instead of Dinner
This is the classic sign of fatherhood, and every dad worth his salt knows it – if you’re a parent of a young kid and still eating regular and full meals, you’re not parenting correctly. Even comedian Louis C.K. mentioned this. As a parent of a young child, you’re on your kid’s schedule for meals. And if you decide you’re going to be the tough guy and not feed your kid when he’s hungry, you’d better just skip to #4, Gordon Ramsay.
Fathers, in case you haven’t read around the Information Superhighway lately, are quite the domestic queens nowadays. Emergent trends from this new breed of man includes working from home, shouldering more of the nuts-and-bolts childcare, and domestic duties like cooking and cleaning. It’s a great trade-off for the modern family: women fought for decades to get into the workplace, and men have fought for decades to get out of it – and voila, a wild new millennium appears!
But childrens’ mealtimes are always a battle. It’s not even that your kids don’t like what you’re giving them – it’s that humans are one of the only species on earth where their offspring intentionally reject all of the gifts that their parents give them. Think about it – your baby squirts out of the womb and immediately starts crying for food – but then spends the next 18 years actively spitting out and rejecting every meal that you give them. It’s your job as a father to not grab your kid by the throat and install a feeding tube. Mainly because you didn’t go to medical school and will screw something up. If you did go to medical school, then, this is me giving you the go-ahead.
Because of that, new parents generally do two things once their kid is on real food – first, they prepare 40 different things for one meal. If the kid doesn’t want a peanut butter and jelly, he must want a turkey sandwich. If he doesn’t want turkey, maybe he’ll eat some rice and vegetables. No? Maybe some pasta. Meatloaf. Lasagna. Egg salad. Rack of Lamb. Clams casino. And just when you’re ready to turn the knife on yourself and see if he’ll eat fried nipples, the kid ends up eating a reasonable amount of the first option, and he’s done. Now your kitchen looks like the ass-end of a HomeTown Buffet, and your kid’s already off tearing up some important mail you had sitting on the edge of your desk.
So what do you do? You start packing it away, of course. And I don’t mean packing it away into tupperware – I mean, shoveling it in your mouth. You know that you won’t get another second to relax for the rest of the day, so while your kid is breakdancing on the torn-up pieces of your tax rebate check, you’ve got a couple solid minutes to have a couple of courses. Because, really, if you try to put it all in sandwich bags and tupperware, you’ll just wonder later why you wasted space in your fridge for the outer crust of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, 6 grapes (sliced in half to minimize the choking hazard) or three spoonfuls of rice pilaf. And clams casino doesn’t chill/reheat well, so that’s out of the question.
Somewhere along the line, I’ve learned to cut sandwiches into four sections, that way if my kid burns out on eating it halfway through, I’ve got untouched corners all to myself. It’s even pocket-sized, so I can drop it into my pocket with my wallet and eat it at my leisure. And being smashed in your pocket against your thigh isn’t all bad – I like to call it the “dad panini.”
And can we be completely honest here? Sometimes I eat the old Cheerios and Chex I find under the couch because I want to get rid of them before my kid sees them and eats them himself.
I don’t actually do that. But I do make sure I’m making food for my kid that I don’t mind eating, just in case. And, allow me to gloat, my two year old son is so awesome that even if I did make him clams casino, he’d eat it, thank me and tell me he loves me.
Next: Sleep…sweet, sweet sleep.