Things a Dad Gets Used To


For every frustrating or exasperating moment, there’s a larger list to compensate. Patrick Dunn offers a list of "moments" that all dads will cherish.

I hate crumbs.

You know—the ones that stick to your feet when you walk across the floor?

I bought a Dustbuster. I even bought a dust mop. Remember those? Your grandma probably used one. It’s me against the crumbs, but I fight the good fight to no avail. The crumbs are winning… big time.

Every battle has its pivotal moment. Mine was June 3, 2009. That’s when I became a dad, and was instantly inundated with changes and adjustments. Round two arrived on July 28, 2012.

Now I have two boys, and the crumbs have spread to the car and the car seats, where you can find buried Cheerios from the Paleozoic Era.

Really, becoming a father means learning to get used to a lot of things you once feared, never imagined or tried to avoid— like a floor full of crumbs.

Some others:

Goo. Before fatherhood, I was mortified watching babies. They put out more drool than Krispy Kreme does icing. Now I’ve learned that babies and goo are synonymous. And when it’s your own child, you don’t even think about it. Slobber, spit-up, runny noses… bring it on.

Noise. Children raise the decibel level. Every toy clanks, clicks, bonks or makes annoying chiming music. There is rarely silence. Dinner at our house is a symphony of objects banged on the table, toys being dropped, unintelligible baby squeals and a toddler who has the daily verbal word count of a Toastmasters convention.

Waking up. Remember those cozy nights of blissful snuggling under your blanket? Now a crisis can strike at any hour, a nocturnal visit from a three-year-old is commonplace, and the baby monitor is guaranteed to deliver an audible jolt. But hey, there’s always espresso.

Batteries. I never imagined that 75 percent of our monthly budget would go toward batteries. Everything made for children requires them: toys, combs, bed sheets… I can now change batteries like the member of a NASCAR pit crew.

Reduced privacy. Going to the restroom alone? Don’t count on it. A relaxing shower without a baby seat or toddler playing nearby? That’s as rare as a lunar eclipse.

“Warrior’s feet.” Stepping on Legos, Hot Wheels and pointy objects—not to mention kicking toys across the floor in a nighttime stupor— produce a brand of physical and mental toughness akin to walking on burning coals.

Conversation fragments. Here’s what talking with my wife often sounds like:

Sally: How was your day?

Me: Good. First I… (insert toddler interruption)

Me: OK, So this morning… (stop for baby tipping over onto face)

Me: Um, this morning I had this meeting and… (stop to discipline toddler, then run upstairs to get something for the baby—while toddler is asking for a cookie).

At this point we pretty much give up or forget what we were talking about. Needless to say, ordinary conversations can be tough. A simple update like, “I got the car washed today,” may take 24 hours to complete.

Never-ending bed time. It’s amazing how everything suddenly happens when you say “Goodnight” to a toddler. Monsters appear; it’s too light or too dark; he becomes instantly thirsty; he just has to ask you one more question….

The baby aisle. If you’re like me, your first trip to the baby superstore was a serious “I’m out of my element” experience—kind a like a goat would feel piloting an F-16. Now, it’s a sure bet I’ll be picking something up from the baby aisle on a weekly basis—brimming with diaper-changing confidence.

General chaos. When you have children, a “normal” moment could inspire a dozen country music songs. Here is an actual recent Facebook post of mine:

Let's see. Vent fan blaring, patio door open with below freezing temps, smoke alarms going off from dinner, Parmesan cheese flying in the air and all over the kitchen because the lid came off, Brendan in the middle of potty training, and Sally trying to feed Devan his first solid food. ...Welcome to a night with the Dunn family!

Kids’ TV. How many toddler-targeted animated characters and theme songs did you know before you had children? How many do you know now, hear daily or find yourself singing in your head now? So long, ESPN!

“Do it again!” You know the risk. You do something silly—a face, a song, a dance, anything with a stuffed animal—and you will hear “Do it again!” Over and over… and over. Choose your silly moments wisely; you may not always have time for an encore.

And I’m just getting started. My list could keep going: to-do lists that remain untouched; new ways to get rid of monsters; the perpetual running of the dishwasher; the “passing of the sickness”; less free time; everything taking longer; embarrassing moments in public. I’m sure you could add a lot more—and feel free to do so!

But honestly, you get used to it. All of this is part of being a dad, and I understand that.

And for every moment that is frustrating or exasperating, there’s a larger list to compensate: the list of moments I cherish and the things I never want to get used to:

  • A child crawling into my lap for a bedtime story
  • The joyful smile from a baby resting in a crib 
  • High-pitched giggles from tickle attacksBear hugs, first steps and “Da da!”
  • Watching my wife love like only a mom can

I’ll walk on crumbs any day to be blessed like this.

This post was written by Patrick Dunn.

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