According to my son’s birth certificate, I became a father in 2010. But becoming an actual parent took longer. In fact, I think it took until last week.
When imagining what having kids will be like, we all have similar daydreams. Most of them focus on big moments: choosing a name, putting together a crib, going through labor, changing nappies, playing catch, taking off the training wheels, the first day of school, etc.
When I finally became a dad, many of those developmental milestones remained significant, but dozens – hundreds! – more piled up around small, everyday stuff. Every single first is a capital-F First: first burp, first smile, first poop, first solid poo, first roll-over, first sit-up, first crawl, first fall, first steps, first words…
After a while, and Facebook walls full of pictures, you realise that those aren’t your milestones. They’re your kid’s.
That wasn’t your first smile or your first solid poo (I hope). No, the milestones you have as a parent are different. The milestones that mark the passage from being someone who has a kid to being an actual parent are less obvious than first steps or first words, but they’re no less significant.
Here are five developments that signaled my graduation from baby-toter to parent extraordinaire!
Five signs you’ve become a parent
1 – Shit Happens
Shortly after he was born, Mom and Buried and I took our son to a friend’s house for New Year’s Eve. At some point during increasingly drunken discussions about Dick Clark’s face and Fleshlights (true story), I had to change my kid’s diaper. During the process, one I had already undertaken countless times in the previous four months or so, I got some shit on my thumb. Human shit. It had happened before (and not just on my thumb!); tweren’t no thang. So I soldiered on and finished the job, wiping the human waste from my hands, grabbing another beer and promptly forgetting about it. When you stop giving a shit about shit, you’re becoming a parent.