Fatherhood fears

No matter what your little bundle of joy brings into your life, writes Chris Hunt, you will likely lose a small piece of who you were pre-parenthood – including the joys of ‘man-talk’

Just wait. You’ll see.

I’ve grown to hate these four words. Like leeches, they attach themselves to the end of every story any buddy with a kid has told me since my son was born.

Take, for example, this gem a friend threw at me last week: “My son had a tantrum last night while shopping at Zellers. Just started screaming at the top of his lungs for no reason. When I ask him what’s wrong, he says, ‘I don’t like cats!’ which is weird because we don’t own a cat and there weren’t any around. He just randomly decided cats upset him.

“When I tell him to stop screaming he looks at me, shouts ‘I’m not screaming, you’re screaming,’ and then starts screaming all over again.”

I guess I looked like I disbelieved him (I didn’t, I just didn’t really care) because he looks at me and says, “Just wait, you’ll see.”

The life of a parent is one of sacrifice. No matter what your little bundle of joy brings into your life, you will likely lose a small piece of who you were pre-parenthood.

Many of us melt into neurotic, antisocial beings who forsake friends, personal time and their sanity for as long as it takes children to become completely independent.

I’m new at this whole dad thing, but I’m thinking that takes about six months. Want to see a parent on the verge of a nervous breakdown? Scope out the parents waiting in line to have their kids’ first picture taken with Santa. They’re a hair’s breadth from losing their mind. My girlfriend was so afraid our son was going to cause a scene the she cased the Santa display before we brought our son. I swear the elf with the clipboard thought she was going to rob the place.

“What time do you guys open? Is there a time when it’s quiet? You know, when there aren’t a lot of people around? And what’s security like?”

Some sacrifices are more individual. My girlfriend has had to give up dairy because our son may have a bovine allergy. Now she’s on a vegan diet, which means she’s eating vegan cheese. Vegan cheese is essentially cheese-free cheese. It’s terrible. It turns out it’s the “cheese” part in cheese that makes cheese delicious.

Cheese-free cheese isn’t food. It’s penance.

As for me, I gave up “man-talk.” Man-talk used to be a sanctuary, a comfortable place I could run to escape fatherhood, where I could talk about things that really mattered, like sports, fast cars, faster women. Now?

“Diapers are pretty much the same, regardless of the brand, so I buy them in bulk at Costco. They soak stuff up just as well. Almost. And after a while you won’t care. Just wait. You’ll see.”

I know it sounds juvenile, but man-talk is an important aspect of a man’s sense of self and its disappearance heralds a change in your life, a point of no return.

You’re no longer a man, you’re a father.

Now I’m sure many soon-to-be fathers might say to themselves, “Man-talk? I don’t know what that is and I certainly wouldn’t miss it if I did.”

All I have to say to that is: just wait. You’ll see.

Chris Hunt is an Ottawa writer. His column appears
regularly in Ottawa Parenting Times Magazine.

Photo: Angela Jacques Photo: DepositPhotos.com © Andreja Donko