Now that I’ve been a mom a whopping eight weeks (wahoo!), I can confirm that all the clichés about parenthood are true. You’ll love your baby unconditionally the moment you meet her. Check. Time goes by too quickly. Yep. Your life will never be the same … and you won’t mind. Definitely accurate.
However, Father’s Day got me thinking about one universal truth that I haven’t heard on repeat for the last year. Maybe it’s because people don’t want to admit it’s true. Or maybe it just takes a while to realize. But I think it’s safe to admit that at some point in every kid’s life, her parents become embarrassing. More specifically, dads become embarrassing.
I don’t just mean this in an “ewww, why is dad wearing socks with sandals?!” sort of way, and I’m certainly not excluding moms from the mix—because with the way I’m lovin’ these yoga pants, I’m one small step away from dropping Bea off at school in a bathrobe and sponge curlers. I mean it from a character building perspective. Call it paternal instinct, call it maturity, or call it the dad gene, it’s just something that gives dads a knack for fostering confidence and pushing kids out of comfort zones—things that every kid needs but doesn’t always want. I think dads embarrass their kids in a way that makes them better people.
I remember my dad mowed the front yard in an outfit that would make any small town teenage girl cringe: an old undershirt tucked into cutoff sweatpants (the best way to display the elastic band of his tighty-whities), tube socks, ratty tennis shoes, and a sweatband—topped off with the largest, most ridiculous headphones ever made. It was bad enough that he wore that getup himself for the whole world to see, but when mowing became one of my chores, he’d follow me through the yard insisting I wear his Saturn-sized headgear.
Another source of youthful angst was when my dad, flabbergasted by the price of sports apparel, decided to make me his own version of Nike t-shirts using an undershirt and a sharpie. They were awful. He also made me learn how to change a tire, pushed me to get my first job, and goaded me into trying some seriously weird food (bear brats, anyone?).
He wasn’t trying to ruin my life. He was trying to make me a better person. Save your money. Be creative, independent, and self-sufficient. Try new things. Don’t care what other people think. Protect your gal-dern hearing! He was comfortable in his own grass-stained shoes, and I’m happy to say that today I’m comfortable in mine. (But I’m still not wearing those nasty headphones. Sorry dad.) His dad-isms made me a more confident, caring person and a better mom.
Now that I have Bea, it’s fun watching Andy make the transformation from an amazing husband into an even more amazing dad. He’s loving and attentive and totally gung-ho about tummy time and trimming those tiny baby fingernails—the jobs that scare the bajeezus out of me.
The dad gene has kicked in, and he’s unknowingly setting the stage for many embarrassing daddy-daughter moments by condemning her to a life of one-piece bathing suits and doing housework in a pair of awkwardly short cutoff jeans. If these don’t earn him a few eye rolls, then the nerdtastic, Game of Thrones themed newborn picture he staged should do the trick.
Hopefully one day many, many years from now Bea will reminisce about all of our weirdness and be glad it made her into something great. And I know she’ll understand her daddy loves her and wants what all other embarrassing parents want for their kiddos: For her to be genuinely confident, happy, and well-rounded.