September 28, 2007

No Longer King

Once upon a time I lived in a house where I was king. Friends came to visit, drink beers and reminisce about old times. Family came to play games and eat cheese coneys. In-laws came to tell me that my grass could use a good cutting, repeating it over and over until finally, after hours of this, the nagging would wear me out and I'd set down my Mt. Dew, get up off the couch and turn up the volume on the television.

Being king gives you great advantages.

All was fine and good at Klems Manor until the day we brought Ella home from the hospital. In a blink of an eye, the paradigm shifted. There were no more beers. No more games. My throne had been passed along and I suddenly found myself removed from the glorious crown and demoted to lowly role of court jester.

To quote Fozzie Bear, "Wocka Wocka Wocka."

It's a little known fact that new fathers suffer from a severe post-partum affliction called "Dadpression," or a feeling of being completely ignored by all who pass through the door. It's true. Dadpression is not only a serious ailment, but is also extremely common after first babies—particularly if those babies have extra-squishy cheeks.

The key cause of Dadpression is quite simple: Once baby arrives, no one cares about dad anymore. In fact, in the long line of importance, he's lucky to even be on the list. As any dad will tell you, the greater hierarchy goes as follows:

Other Family Members
People You Don't Know

When people walk through our door, the first thing they do is grab the baby and give her a hug. Next, they turn to mom and say, "I can't believe how skinny you are! You don't even look like you had a baby!" After that, they wave to Steven, my HDTV, and look for Glenn, his strictly hetero life partner (and remote control). The only time anyone even acknowledges that I'm in the room is when they need something to drink or need something to eat or need me to "stop watching Uncle Buck…seriously we've seen it like 500 times…I mean it, change channels…no, giant pancakes are not that funny."

Now I'm not necessarily complaining about this. Sure, falling so far so quickly is a pretty jagged pill to swallow. But thankfully the pill falls to dad, who not only can accept this fate in a reasonable timeframe but can also embrace it. Honestly, we dads look at this Budweiser as half-full and find ways to use the invisibility of Dadpression to our advantage. Don't believe me? Ask yourself this:

Why do dads always walk around in their underwear?

Dadpression. If no one is going to notice us, why not be comfortable. This invisibility opens us up to a whole new world of possibilities that disappeared the day we got married.

There are other common symptoms of Dadpression, too, including (but not limited to) beer bellies, stinky feet, unruly nose hairs, holey underwear (and not the good kind), receding hairlines, trails of Dorito crumbs leading to dad's chair and, most of all, toxic gas.

I may not be the center of attention ever again, but as you can see I'm completely OK with it. I'd rather everyone fawn over my daughter, showering her with love and making her the highest form of royalty in our family. And while I'm sure I'll miss being king from time to time, I certainly plan to take full advantage of my life as a jester and embrace my Dadpression—and all of its symptoms. I'm sure my wife will be happy to hear that.

"Wocka Wocka Wocka."

The Life of Dad is updated most Fridays (barring the call of family duties). Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian

September 14, 2007

Diaper Dad

On the Things-That-Are-Difficult food chain, changing a diaper falls somewhere between wrestling a bear in Boston and convincing that bear to wear an "I *heart* the Yankees" t-shirt. It's something no man attempts until his wife, in what can only be described as a total lapse in judgment, leaves for the supermarket and puts him in charge. And women should know that men should never (ever) be put in charge.

According to my wife, changing a diaper is easy. It involves five steps that, if followed properly, will take a total of no more than one minute to complete. The steps are as follows:

1. Open diaper
2. Wipe baby parts
3. Remove diaper while simultaneously sliding new diaper under baby
4. Secure new diaper
5. Throw dirty diaper away.

She says that anyone with half a brain can do this and that she's pretty sure I do, in fact, have half a brain. But, after eight-plus weeks of changing Ella's diaper, I think it's safe to say that I've completely and unequivocally proved her wrong.

Just like any man, my brain doesn't operate like that. It's filled with important information, like who won the 1986 World Series and how many times you can wear a t-shirt before it needs to be washed (if you said "less than 12," you'd be wrong). There's no space in there for unimportant knowledge like birthdays, anniversaries, color coordination and diaper-changing instructions. Even if there were, I don't believe in using instructions. No man does. We like to follow gut instinct.

Of course, a typical diaper change under "gut instinct" goes something like this:

1. Open diaper.
2. Baby screams uncontrollably.
3. Panic.
4. Take two shots of Jack.
5. Start to wipe baby parts. Also wipe baby foot after baby dips foot into dirty diaper that you haphazardly left laying wide open.
6. Slide new diaper under baby, though can't figure out how to work the adhesives that hold it together.
7. Wipe own elbow after dipping it in the dirty diaper that's STILL laying wide open.
8. Go to secure diaper, notice hand is all wet. Look up and see a fresh load in new diaper.
9. Repeat steps 1-7.
10. Secure new diaper with duct tape, take two more shots of Jack, call wife and beg her to come home immediately.

Now, for a few unfortunate dads, the fun stops here. Luckily in my household there's a bonus Step 11: Get yelled at by wife for 1) not throwing the dirty diaper away, 2) putting the clean diaper on backwards and 3) not cutting the grass—hey, when she's on a roll …

I'll probably never master the art of a successful diaper change, and I don't expect to. It's not in my blood. If you're looking for someone to squash a bug or paint a deck or win you a fantasy baseball championship, I'm your guy. But if your baby needs a changin', you're better off calling an aunt or grandma or the creepy lady next door who has no kids but owns 17 cats and calls them her "babies." Each is more qualified to fulfill your diaper-changing needs.

And if you ever think about asking me to change a baby, just remember one thing: it'll cost you three times as many diapers and six times as many wipes. But don't worry, it's not all bad— I do come equipped with my own roll of duct tape.

The Life of Dad is updated most Fridays (barring the call of family duties). Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian