The new normal

Last week my wife was sitting in the glider, feeding our daughter.

“How are you doing?” I asked.
“We’re getting there,” she said.

That about describes where we’re at right now. I don’t know that I have much context to add to Erin’s beautifully-rendered post about Abigail’s first month other than to say we seem to unlock new baby achievements every week:

Congratulations! You have achieved Napping After Bottle.

You have found The Mobile That Keeps Her Distracted Long Enough For You To Have A Cup of Coffee.

I’m sorry, parents, but your full night’s sleep is in another castle!

The other day, when I expressed frustration at not being able to describe a new normal, my friend Matt left the following comment:

“I hate to tell you this, but there isn’t really a normal. Once you figure one out, they’re just a little bit older and have already changed again. The real trick is getting better at adjusting to that unpredictability.”

He’s right, of course, and that’s probably what was bothering me. Erin and I know enough to know that once you think you’ve got one aspect of child-rearing figured out, it changes. But it doesn’t stop me from wanting to plant my flag in the sand and say “We figured this out.” While I might know, a month in, how to handle work and baby and oh yeah! my relationship with my wife I might be ass-over-tea-kettle in month two. But at least I know that so it won’t be a surprise when it happens.

I realized yesterday that I’m that guy now.

I’m that guy who, without prompting, will show you a picture of his kid. And with prompting will show you 20.

I’m that guy who tweets about bits of formula getting on his iPad. As if I’m the first person to experience it.

I’m that guy who goes into work late or leaves at a decent hour because it means 20 extra minutes with his kid.

I’m that guy who makes Dad Jokes now. (Actually, I was always sort of that guy. It’s just nice to have an excuse now to indulge my inner Phil Dunphy.)

I’m that guy now. And probably forever.

5 comments for “The new normal

  1. March 31, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    I've never really understood why being “that guy” is a bad thing. Perhaps it's because I had kids young and wasn't in the corporate culture after I had kids, but I just don't get the annoyance. I mean, people talk about their lives, and kids are a big part of people's lives, so I just don't see that it's any more annoying than the people who talk about bar-hopping constantly or their knitting hobby or exercise or their dogs or cats. I think people DO find it more annoying, I just don't really get why.

    I'm so glad you guys are settling in. The biggest thing for me to figure out was that it's not linear, it sucks, then doesn't, then sucks, then doesn't, etc. It's good/crazy. :)

  2. April 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Doug has been that guy for almost 10 years, its natural. You are well suited for it :) BTW, If you can accpet that things will constantly change with your child now, you are way ahead of the game :)

  3. April 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Here's why you're not that guy: (1) your Facebook avatar is still you; (2) you're capable of writing well-written, coherent, and introspective posts about whether you've become “that guy.”

    “That guy” lacks your self awareness and loses himself in an unhealthy way in his new identity: “the dad.” Things change when you have kids, and they should, but the people who are so completely swept up in the change that they lose any real sense of self, the people who just flip a switch and turn off everything that was awesome about them pre-baby in order to become something so completely different, those are the “that guys.” That's what makes them unbearable. You, on the other hand, are still you, but you-plus-baby. As it should be.

    Congratulations again, Scott.

  4. Erin Shea
    April 1, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    My avatar includes my kid…ahem.

  5. April 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Including your kid and it being ONLY a photo of your kid are two different things.

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