I was in a public washroom the other day, and I ended up noticing things that I’d never paid attention to just 4 months ago. I quickly realized this washroom did not have a baby change table. I found myself scanning the counter space to see if I could fit a baby on it for a diaper change. I need to clarify that I wasn’t with Everett or in the need to change any baby’s diaper. I had just suddenly found myself scouring a washroom to see if it was designed in a way so that a father could change his baby if he had to. It wasn’t. I found myself shaking my head when I walked out and muttering how behind the times this establishment was.
If I go into a restaurant, even if I’m not with Everett, I’ll check to see if there are booths or at least a place I can put his bassinet. If there isn’t, I try to judge if there is enough room to fit a stroller beside the table. If it is clear that the place cannot properly accommodate a stroller or bassinet, then I cross the restaurant off as a place worth my repeat business. You have to realize this has nothing to do with the taste of the food or the quality of service, but dependent on how baby friendly it is.
I get a kick out people who almost never hold babies, but opt to hold Everett. They often act is if he is a bomb, that is about to explode if they don’t keep him still. They usually keep their arms completely stiff and it appears they’re flexing every muscle in their body. The funny thing is, I was like that right before Everett was born, and actually held him that way for the first week or so. Now, I’ll hold him with one arm while I work on other things with my free hand. Holding Everett is now just as natural as walking or sitting on a chair or talking to someone – I can do it without any thought.
I would never have predicted the three above things. These weren’t even things I ever gave any thought about during Emily’s pregnancy. Becoming a parent has now made a few slight modifications to the way I think. For the most part, I’m still the exact same guy. I now just have a “daddy brain” where I look at things with the perspective of a father. I’ve learned to do things with an infant in my arms. I am an awful multi-tasker, but out of necessity, I’ve learned how to accomplish tasks while still looking after my son.
I didn’t need to train myself to start thinking differently. This mindset wasn’t discovered through reading “parent books” or staying up at night and chanting “I will think like a dad.” It just hit me once I became a father. My son instantly became the most important person in my life and someone I swore I would always love, support and protect. From this vow, I found that everything I see or interact with ends up causing me to think about my son, and how I can best look after him in each situation.
This doesn’t mean I magically found the power to be the greatest father ever. It did take practice to be able to hold Everett with one arm. I still occasionally forget simple things like putting a diaper cover on or to not lift Everett above my head right after he eats. I may not be the perfect father, but I’m always thinking like a father and how I can best care for my precious son.