How much has my world changed?

Once you have a kid, your life is supposed to end. You’re supposed to become one of the living dead due to sleep deprivation. You don’t see friends anymore. You can’t go anywhere. You now hold a fragile china cup that might break at the slightest movement. You have to be silent as you tip-toe around your home.

Thankfully, it ain’t that bad!

I was chatting with Dan (a father himself) yesterday about how much my life has changed. The term that I used, as over-used as it is, was "paradigm shift". Basically, the view of the world that I had is different because I now need to view it a different way.

First, it was just me. Single Geoff. Boring Geoff. Geoff did whatever Geoff felt like, and there wasn’t much of an issue. (Except his credit card bills, but that’s another issue.)

Then there was Couple Geoff. Geoff now needed to be aware of the other person in his life, and ensure that the other person occupied a certain amount of time in his schedule, lest Geoff return to Single Geoff.

Now there’s Father Geoff. (Actually, that sounds kinda creepy. But I digress.) I have a family now. I have a lot of things to be responsible for beyond Single or Couple Geoff. (And certainly more than Critical Mass Geoff.) And it’s a paradigm shift, because I haven’t figured this one out yet.

For example: babies escape all attempts at categorisation.

I’m a problem solver. Trouble shooter. Have keyword, will travel. While I don’t code anything anymore, I do work through problems — high level all the way down to specific development issues. I help solve the daily challenges our clients put before us, and ones that we create for ourselves.

I like to think that I’m pretty good at this. It’s one of the few skills that I think I’m strong in. Some people can draw the most wonderful pictures. Others are excellent at math. Me? I can find good solutions to weird problems.

But babies? No amount of logic works. None. They cry because they need to, and there’s no reason that you’ll be able to pin down 100% of the time. Sometimes it’s more obvious than not — I’ve at least figured out when she’s hungry (rooting is becoming easier to see), but other times I just can’t get her to be happy (or at the very least, quiet).

I’ve been at my wit’s end a few times already. And it’s highly frustrating. It’s partly ego ("I can solve almost anything, so I should be able to solve this"), partly a control thing ("I’m your father and you will do as I say"), and partly a parental failure ("I can’t care for my child"). Alex is having a far better time of this, but she is a rock star, after all.

Slowly, I am adapting. I know that I can’t solve everything. (Especially when it comes to hunger. There I’m utterly useless, and the kid knows it.) I am able to handle some things better. But it’s going to take time before I can fight off the frustration. It’s all growth, and this is a hell of a good lesson for me to learn.

Hands, Westgate, Calgary, Alberta, 28 August 2007

Then we have the diapers. I never thought I’d find this so intriguing.

For the record, Alex and I are trying to be as environmentally conscious as we can. We’re ultimately going to use cloth diapers, but can’t until the baby gets a bit larger, and the remnants of the umbilical cord fall off. Until then, we’re using Seventh Generation chlorine-free disposable diapers.

The stereotype of the toxic waste coming out of something so innocent isn’t entirely correct. At least at the beginning — it doesn’t really seem to smell at all. (And yes, I’ve actually caught a pooping in action — thankfully a clean diaper was being installed at the time.) It’s tarry, sticky, downright icky and enough to make most people sick to their stomachs.

I think there’s a hormone that kicks in with parents, though, and it (so far) hasn’t fazed me much. We’ll see what happens come Week 4, which is when my friend Doug tells me that it gets much, much worse.

You actually find yourself interested in what’s coming out. Mostly because the nurses make you be interested. You have to know colour, texture, and frequency. You should have so many pees and poops on specific days — not by day of the week, but by day of life. It’s starts slow and rises, eventually getting to some level of "normalcy". We actually record these things for health records, just in case.

Paradigms are a strange thing. You think you understand the world, then it gets turned on its ear. It’s not always the entire world, sometimes just part of it. But it’s enough to make you feel a little queasy from the rocking.

But for the record, I’m still having fun with this. And I look eagerly forward to whatever time I can spend with my child. Even when I can’t help her.

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