What is the toughest part about becoming a dad?
Some say that it’s the loss of freedom. These fellows swear that the independence that you knew not so long ago when, as a younger man, you stayed out late and came and went as you pleased in this world, it slips away from you practically overnight.
They say you pine for it almost instantly too, before those carefree tail lights even have time to disappear round the corner.
Others, they swear that the most difficult thing about fatherhood is loving someone so much that you always feel this incredibly powerful urge to love and protect your child. It is a mindset and a heartset unlike anything you had ever dreamed possible and it is overpowering, they say. And although you wouldn’t trade it for the world, all of that worrying and caring also wears you down over time.
Still, other dads will assure you that it’s the rough night hours, or the back burner sex life, or the never-ending need for patience that comprises the greatest challenge any father will ever have to face.
And in they’re own way, those are good guesses. They really are.
However, I’m here to tell you that they’re all wrong.
Well, because the hardest thing that any father will ever have to face, the thing, the experience that will undoubtedly drive him to the distant brink of sanity where he will hit the brakes just in time to balance on the precipice of cohesive thought as he cackles with terror at the bottomless canyon of “Off The Deep End” down below is actually trying to put a kid’s freaking shoes on.
Alright, let me put it to you like this.
If you’re wife or girlfriend or surrogate is pregnant and you are trying to prepare yourself both mentally and physically for the greatest ride of your life, here’s what you need to do in order to truly understand what is about to happen in your world.
First off, get a hold of a raccoon or a squirrel or even a duck. Don’t ask me how; do you wanna experience a slice of fatherhood before the kid pops out or not?
Okay fine. So get yourself one of the above critters and bring it back to your house or wherever you live.
Now, take it into the kid’s nursery that you and yours have been setting up so tenderly and diligently.
Okay, now that you’re in there: pull out one of the super cute teeny tiny pairs of clever shoes that you have accumulated in this latest period of your life wherein you have been buying many outfits and much footwear that will never ever be worn except maybe for one time/one photo simply because you feel like such a jackass that you didn’t listen to the sensible people who have already been through what you’re heading into and told you, with full confidence, that your baby would live in a series of cheap cotton onesies that looked just as good polka-dotted with spit-up stains as they did without them, and instead you just had to indulge your hipster-y fashionista side by spending what amounts to the gross domestic income of one of the smaller nations on Earth on four pairs of various colored size Zero high top Chuck Taylors.
Go ahead, pick your color.
Black? Fine. Great.
Now, get your raccoon/squirrel/duck up on that swell ‘changing station’ table thing that you have against the wall under the precious vintage Winnie The Pooh framed prints.
Okay, pin that critter as best as you can down onto the surface of the table. Remember: this is a very wild animal you’re trying to subdue so be really careful. Use your forearms if you have to, but try not to lay any of your limbs across the windpipe.
Now, go ahead and slip on one of those sneakers!
Did you get it on? You did?!! With only a few minor scratches? Oh, there’s one pretty deep gash, but you’ll survive.
Hey, congratulations man. You have just experienced what it’s like to shoe a baby. And, I have to admit it: you did pretty damn good for a first timer.
You wanna have a taste of slipping one on a toddler’s foot?
Yeah? You do? You sure?
Okay okay, tough guy.
Do what I say, okay?
Make a Playboy bunny with your thumb and two fingers; go on, you know how to do it.
Okay, now flick your fingers hard in the animal’s nose or beak like ten times really fast.
There, that’s it! Harder! Don’t be afraid! Do it!
Hey, are you okay there, buddy?
Are…wait…are you bleeding?
Oh boy. Oh my. Ugh.
Is that cartilage showing right there? Oh boy, it is cartilage isn’t it?
Ummmm, this might seem crazy now that you have a raccoon’s fangs embedded in your cheek, but any chance of you slipping on that shoe, man?
Okay, sorry I asked.
Anyway. Now you know.
So welcome, buddy
A very warm welcome to you, Dad.