Schrodinger’s Dad

Dave and Baby Aaron

Aaron, weeks old, and me telling the folks on Prodigy about it. Jan, 1993. Photo by Andi Willman, Aaron’s mom.

My friend Mike is soon to be a first time dad. One week soon, in fact. As is every new dad, Mike is worried that he’ll screw up, that he’ll break his kid, that he’ll make a mistake that will scar his kid for life. He is also confident that he’s going to be a great dad, that he’ll raise a terrific daughter, that she’ll become a kind and capable woman.

Of course, the latter is far more likely to occur than the former. The chance does exist that he’ll ruin his daughter, but as Mike is a kind and capable man, the math suggests that the likelihood of Mike as the ruination of his daughter is right up there with Mike falling through a black hole and emerging out the other end.

In the weeks before your child’s birth, every dad (moms, too, I suspect, but never having been a mom, my evidence to support this hypothesis is circumstantial) enters into a phase I call “Schrodinger’s Dad.”

Schrodinger’s Dad –  The hypothetical state in which you are simultaneously the Alpha dad – a world-class dad, the Ur-Dad, the uber-Dad, all rolled into one, and the Terminus dad-a scarrer and maimer of child psyches, the all-thumbs-cannot-even-change-a-diaper without-duct-tape dad, the Shiva I am the destroyer of worlds dad.

You are about to head out into the great unknown, Michael my friend. Whilst medieval cartographers noted “Here be Dragons” to indicate uncharted lands and waters, and explorers nonetheless set sail, you too, are far more ready to set sail than you may realize.

You’ll make mistakes. Your dad did, and look in the mirror, you turned out great. So kick yourself in the ass, learn from it, and move forward. I promise, you’ll have far more incredibly stellar Dad-ly moments than you’ll have epic Dad-FAILS. Stop for a second when they happen, take a mental picture, and move forward. And keep moving forward, because babies are faster than one might think.

Here’s the big secret – you’re a good man, and so long as you have her best interests at heart, your daughter will always love you. There will be times when she won’t like you very much.  That’s fine, as those are the times when she needs her dad the most, but she won’t realize it until years later. There will also be times when you won’t like your daughter very much. That’s fine, too. Just remember, be kind. Adolescence is much harder on the kid than it is on you.

The Schrodinger’s Dad state doesn’t last long; longer than the Higgs boson in CERN’s Super Large Hadron Collider, but shorter than the half-life of P-32, yet it is certifiably real. Fortunately it has a glorious demise.

The greatest moment in any dad’s life is when he holds his child for the first time. It is exhilarating. It marks the moment when everything makes sense. It is the moment when you are an adult. It washes away the fear, as a tsunami washes away the shore, because from here forward, you have a purpose in life.

I’ve heard it said that one is not truly a man until one’s father dies, and you sit at the head of life’s table. I call BS, and say that when a good man chooses to become a father, that’s the moment of man-hood.

Welcome to the hood, Mike.

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The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at http://dstan58.blogspot.com/

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