I knew from the moment my girlfriend and I agreed we should have a baby my life was going to change. Diapers, bottles, and the sound of a crying baby waking me on a regular basis. I wasn’t prepared for some of the other changes, however, like the amount of time a child truly needs. The financial burden, never really easing. A different car, different vacation destinations, and most shocking to me, a change in friends.
No one can truly tell you how much of your time a child takes until you experience it for yourself. When you first bring the baby home from the hospital you expect to spend most of your time taking care of it. Changing diapers, feeding the baby, bathing, and rocking to sleep, only to have to do it all over again in a few hours, if you’re lucky. I, being a first time father, was looking forward to my son growing a little older and needing a little less care. How wrong I was, yes the waking up every few hours will stop. He began eating real food, and left the diapers behind. What I didn’t know was for everything he grew out of he grew into something else. Diapers became toilet training. Bottles became him asking me to fill his cup, and cleaning up the mess as he learned to drink from one. I also became his number one playmate. The time I looked forward to having back to myself is now spent playing with trains, cars, and monster trucks.
Everyone knows a child can be expensive. I had no idea how expensive until I had my son. I knew we would need diapers, formula, baby food, and baby clothes. I didn’t realize how much of all this we needed until it happened. The amount of diapers and wipes we went through totally amazed me. The cost of formula was shocking. How could one bottle of formula cost more than I had spent on a six pack of beer in my before baby life. Again, to show my ignorance as a new father, I was counting down the days until the diapers and formula expenses were no more. I had dreams of a new big screen television or new furniture. I got a new television and furniture, but it was a small television with dvd player built in and a toddler bed and toy box for my son’s room.
The one thing all my friends kidded me about, was having to get rid of my car and getting a minivan. I was determined to keep my car, a two door sport model, meant to be opened up on the highway, not to ferry my son to and from daycare. I actually managed to keep my car longer than anyone thought I would, but that all changed as my son got older. As an infant I could manuver my son in and out of his car seat in the back of my car with not much trouble. I knew I couldn’t keep my car the first day I bumped my son’s head on the car as I tried to get him into his child safety seat. The two seater model I loved so much was soon replaced by a four door. My friends were right, but I held out much longer than any of them thought.
Speaking of friends, this is one area I never thought would change. I had alot of the same friends for many years. I was basically a single man for 35 of my 45 years. The one long term relationship I had didn’t include a child of my own, so my lifestyle didn’t change much. The baby brought no time for sporting events, no time for stopping at the bar after work, no late nights at friends homes. My single friends were slowly being replaced by people who had children. I still consider these people my friends, I just don’t see them too often. I now go to children’s birthday parties, the zoo, the aquarium, my old friends don’t frequent those places.
I was never much of a vacation person before the birth of my son. Much of my life I actually worked seven days a week, and my travel was related to my involvement with a race team with NASCAR. When I did take a vacation it was usually to a beach with great clubs, or to visit friends in other parts of the country. I didn’t take any vacations the first two years after my son was born. The first vacation we did take was to Disney. Subsequent vacations always include either a theme park or water park, but never a club or bar. I will probably spend more time at Disney in the next ten years of my life than I ever spent at any other locations in my life combined.
Everyone told me my life was gonna change. Most times it was the first words out of their mouths after congratulations. I never thought I would drive a four door car. I never thought I would stop hanging out with friends I had hung out with for years. I never thought I would work hard all year looking forward to a vacation to Disney or a zoo. I also never thought I would enjoy my son and the new life he has provided me so much that we are thinking about possibly adopting a child. This time I’ll be ready. Yeah right!