Projectile vomiting. Shaving the cat. Accidentally kneeing you in the family jewels. Fatherhood brings a lot of unexpected events, but not all of life’s unexpected moments are unpleasant. You also get to watch the first steps. Getting a driver’s license. Shy questions about kissing. Becoming a father brings a lifetime of great and humble expectations, but it also brings a whirlwind of unexpected episodes.

What is a Clock?

Let us politely point out that children have a very poor sense of — or appreciation for — time. Expect to spend nearly as much time preparing to exit the house as you will spend on the actual trip. This includes overnight trips and week-long vacations to Chincoteague. Depending on the age of your child, you may have to:

  1. Find your child
  2. Clean your child’s face, hands and — oh my gosh what is that?!?
  3. Dress your child
  4. Gather medications, diapers, toys, blankets
  5. Gather food, sippy cups, Cheerios, countless plastic bags, and wipes
  6. Find your child again
  7. Pack all kid bags into the vehicle
  8. Separate your child from the family pet and place her (your child, not the pet) or him into your vehicle
  9. Go back into the house to find your car keys, sunglasses, or possibly your pants

For older children, admittedly, your pack-mule performance is diminished. In its place is the Surly Second or Muttering Minute: “All right, geez, I’m getting ready, leave me alone. I’m almost ready. Do you know where my shoes/shirt/socks/underwear are? Why do we have to go to

  • dumb old …
  • smelly old …
  • boring old …
  • stupid old …

Grandma’s/dinner out/frog gigging/yodeling contests anyway?”

Expect, as a new father, to never get to your destination. That way, when you do manage to pack up the baby, toddler, tween or teen and arrive within a few hours of the scheduled start, you will feel you have accomplished much. And you have, my friend. You have.

Thrust into Reluctant Fatherhood

Sometimes paternity is unexpected. You may have fatherhood thrust upon you:

  • A foggy memory of a delightful night
  • Adopting a child
  • Becoming a stepdad

You can become a father at just about any age, and you can become a father to a child of just about any age. Not every “new Dad” is father to an infant. With the joys of adoption, remarriage, and mixed families, you can be in your early 30s and find yourself father to a 16-year-old.

We want to reassure Dads of all kinds that fatherhood is never easy, but it is always rewarding. The reluctant, unprepared papa is still a father, and with fatherhood comes a sacred duty to be the best Dad you can, at the moment, with what you have. Many men are too hard on themselves. Instead of leaning into fatherhood, they spend too much time feeling overwhelmed instead of feeling fatherly.

Let go of some expectations — I have to teach her to be a superstar; I have to help him win a college scholarship — and simply enjoy the privilege of being a Dad.

You’re Preaching to the Choir

This next part is either completely alien to some of our readers, or old ground for others. The special, unexpected and amazing feelings that come with being a first-time Daddy are soul stirring and life altering.

Becoming a new father unleashes powerful, new emotions. You may have lusted after girls, felt familial love toward a sister or cousin, or been loved by a spouse. Until you become a Dad, you cannot comprehend the bottomless depths of the paternal love you feel for your own children. In that magical moment of first handling your newborn daughter or son, you immediately know you would, without hesitation, lay down your life for this helpless, mewling person.

Here, you also begin a lifetime of small, nagging worry and concern. Is she eating all right? Is she sleeping on her back? Why is she so quiet? Later, you retrace the same steps, only now he’s in college — is he eating all right? Is he sleeping in his own bed or with someone, unprotected? Why didn’t he call?

You also feel a newfound, unexpected fear. You self-evaluate; you bargain; you envision a force field of protection around your child:

  • Will I be good enough?
  • Maybe I should get more life insurance
  • What if I can’t protect her?
  • She is never leaving my sight
  • What will I do if she gets hurt?

You Have a Lifeline at The Firm For Men

Fatherhood, whether a surprise, a delight, or a challenge, sometimes requires a bit of advice from understanding attorneys. So first put down that diaper — please. Use that little pop-up canister of Sani Wipes® to clean up those handsie-wansies, and then dial 757-383-9184 to reach The Firm For Men. We can help protect you from the unexpected: fatherhood, paternity, or some other aspect of Virginia family law. You can also contact us online, where we are always ready to serve the good men and fathers of Virginia, exclusively.