In my free time, I enjoy fishing. While fishing, I try a series of lures, line weights, rod lengths, reel ratios, tide times and sun times. Sometimes I get lucky and catch a few, and sometimes I spend hours trying out different strategies with no payoff – which also describes fatherhood in a nutshell.
Our son Will was born in Providence on April 3. I remember being at Women & Infants Hospital, and despite Will coming out a little purple and looking like an extra in the “Coneheads” movie, my wife Hillary and I could not have been happier.
That night, after the wonderful staff weighed and measured Will, took more blood samples than I thought possible, and wrapped him up in super-cute swaddling and a knit hat, I held him and thought, “Here it is, fatherhood. … What do I do now?”
But let’s back up. The story doesn’t really start in the delivery room; it starts several months earlier, at the first ultrasound.
Sitting in an office with a very nice ultrasound technician and lots of odd machines, it hit both Hillary and me that this was real and we were, in fact, going to become parents. We were certainly thrilled – and maybe a little bit nervous. I remember wanting to be calm for my wife, and so maybe I said, “We have seven months to get ready, this will be easy.”
Over the next several months, we did all the typical things expectant parents do. We set up a nursery, assembled the crib, assembled a registry, and read countless parenting books and blogs. Here is a helpful tip: stay off the internet, where you will find more horror stories than helpful hints.
For expectant fathers, I suggest reading “Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads,” by Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden. This wonderful book reads more like an issue of Popular Mechanics than Heidi Murkoff’s pregnancy bible, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
We came home from the hospital “prepared” for life as parents. After all, we had read a lot of books. Spoiler alert: there is no how-to manual stamped on their tushies when they come out.
Will is now 2 months old and we have tried all of the lures, line weights, rod lengths, reel ratios, tide times and sun times. Sometimes we have gotten it right and sometimes not. It has become crystal clear to me that fatherhood is just like fishing, sometimes it goes well and sometimes there’s no payoff – but, either way, it’s a blast.
Aaron Guttin is the Director of Camp and Teen Programs at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.