As I try to get adjusted to life as a new dad, I’ve got some old friends helping cover things here this week and some new friends covering things next week. Really honored to have everyone guest posting for me and I can’t thank them enough for all their help. First up today is my friend Ed Cyzewski. I hope you enjoy his post as much as I did.
Dear High and Mighty Zack Hunt,
Whenever I correspond with you, you’re all like, “Blah, blah, blah, tell me something I don’t know, Ed. I’m going to Yale Divinity School. I know all the things.”
I write you about church history, and you’re all, “I’ve already read church history. All of it. Twice.”
I write you about holy living, and you’re all, “I’m the defender of the Nazarenes against the Neo-Reformed and Resurgent Mafia.”
I write you about Jonathan Edwards, and you’re all, “I eat my Fruit Loops out of his favorite bowl every morning. You do know I go to YALE, right?”
So I can’t beat you when it comes to theology. You’re my superior in every way.
Ah, but I do have you beat in something: parenting expertise. My son Ethan was born in in July 2012, and I’ve been compiling all of the knowledge about parenting while you’re shelving theology books and saving the internet from Calvinism.
Prepare yourself for some amazing parenting wisdom because if there’s anyone who knows a megaton about parenting, it’s the father who has one 16-month old child. I’m practically an expert. Now that I’m past the one year mark, I’m even more of an expert than those bloggers who give “Tips for a Happy, Lifelong Marriage” after their first anniversary.
Change diapers from the side. Always.
Never, and I repeat, never, stand by the feet of your child while changing a diaper. When Ethan was a week old my wife needed help changing his diaper in the middle of the night. I stood by his feet to help clean him up, lifted his legs up, and he fired a wicked salvo across my chest.
If you don’t want to ruin your favorite Nazarene summer camp t-shirt, always change diapers from the side.
Prepare for conversations about poo and naps.
The first tip was just a warning shot.
Your entire life will now revolve around naps and what you find or don’t find in your daughter’s diapers. Maybe you don’t want to use the word “poo” because it’s not amenable for your sophisticated Yale tastes. Now is the time to get the thesaurus out and pick your word of choice for “poo” because you’re going to talk about it A LOT.
A crying baby isn’t necessarily a suffering baby.
I know you’re used to dealing with whining and crying on the internet, but baby crying is something different. Internet crying just requires typing a clever tweet, closing your computer, or putting down your smart phone.
Baby crying is much harder to deal with.
You’re going to want to make it stop. It can drive you mad or make you feel like a failure.
Don’t let your baby make you feel like a failure. That’s the job of Calvinists.
Sometimes a baby is just fussy. If you can’t make the baby happy and you know the baby doesn’t have a fever or serious problem, you can give yourself a break and step back for a minute. You can even give yourself some grace. Even if you don’t believe in total depravity, you still need a little grace.
Most parenting advice is annoying and true and wrong.
People kept telling me, “Savor those days when you can snuggle your baby!”
It was kind of annoying. It was also kind of true. It was also kind of wrong.
I’m certain that you’re going to savor this season of late night snuggles and naps that end too soon, so I’ll just mention something that I also found to be true with our son: Every new stage is wonderful too.
Sometimes I look back at old pictures of Ethan lying on my chest while I read theology books, and I miss those days. I read a lot less theology now, and I’m sure the thought of that is terrifying to you.
How will you manage to maintain your blog as a powerhouse of Nazarene Holiness Awesomeness?
You may even lose an argument to a Calvinist.
But there’s this: My son can now fling his body at the fridge door and yell “Da!” when he wants me to give him milk. He can even give me hugs on his own. How cool is that? Soon he’ll be saying “Rapture bad!” and I’ll be wiping away tears of joy.
Needless to say, I’m trying to savor these days…
Ask for help.
Talk to parents who know more than me and, I know this is going to be hard to accept, who know more than you.
It’s OK to call out for help about an issue with your child. You may get some crazy town advice if you put it out there on Facebook. It may even give you some great ideas for a blog post.
However, it’s OK to admit that you can’t figure something out or that you’re in a tough patch.
From what I can tell on Facebook, all parents hit walls when the sleep deprivation adds up and a baby befuddles us. And if we’ve learned anything today, it’s that Facebook is an extremely reliable source of information when caring for the most important people in our lives.
I’ll be they didn’t teach you THAT at Yale.
I have every expectation that despite Yale’s inability to prepare you for parenthood and my nearly useless advice, you’re going to be a great dad. You’re a quick learner and you’ve got a great sense of humor. I’ve found that both of those are underestimated resources with a baby.
You may have once thought that Calvinists frustrated you the most or that Chick-Fil-A brings the ultimate joy in life. That is all about to change. Buckle up. I know you’re ready for parenting and that you’re going to love your little girl more than the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.
Parenting is a joy that even Yale can’t prepare you for.
In HIS Grip,
Ed Cyzewski blogs at www.inamirrordimly.com where he shares imperfect and sometimes sarcastic thoughts about following Jesus. He is the author of Coffeehouse Theology and co-author of the upcoming books Unfollowers: The Dropouts, Detractors, and Doubters of Jesus and The Good News of Revelation. Find him on twitter: @edcyzewski or Facebook, and preview his books through his e-newsletter.