Expectations for the kid
When you first find out that you’re about to be a dad, a lot of thoughts run through your head. Once you get over the initial shock and happiness, you suddenly start thinking of all the things this means. Sleepless nights, bodily fluids, and all the other things that go with raising a newborn. Then, maybe the first or second night of not even knowing what day it is, your mind starts to wander. What’s he going to be like when he hits school age? What will his interests be and will any of them overlap with mine? What’s his first vehicle going to be (it’ll have a seven slot grill if I have anything to say about it), and will he be a good driver?
All of that comes and then you realize, once you’ve caught up a bit with sleep, that you have to learn to temper your expectations and even aspirations. Ultimately, his interests, goals, and life path will eventually be out of your hands, and you just hope you’ve put him on a path that will let him meet his own goals and aspirations.
Expectations of parents
One thing that has dramatically changed seems to be the overall expectations of parents, more specifically the challenging of traditional gender roles. I think there’s a lot of reasons that the traditional gender-based division of household labor (or maybe more appropriately the lack thereof) is one rooted in expectations. The expectation used to be that a woman stays home, and therefore would naturally be the one to raise the kids, and performed the other duties of running a household. But, as time has changed, the “traditional” picture of a family is no longer the one you’d see in a Normal Rockwell painting. And I think that is for the better. Children, and I’d even say especially little boys, though I’m sure girls benefit from it as well, need to have a strong male role model that does more than read the paper at night after dinner and dole out the corporal punishment. Not only are many families more or less required to be a dual-income family, but that has also meant a new division of labor around the house.
I would imagine just a few generations ago (or maybe not even that long ago), the male breadwinner coming home and making dinner, doing the dishes, changing a diaper, and putting the kid to bed not only wouldn’t be expected, but he probably wouldn’t even have had any experience with half or more of those tasks. Try as I might, I still get somewhat surprised when someone of my parent’s generations are taken aback by me changing a diaper voluntarily, or by the look I get when I say I’m in the middle of my 9 week leave from work for taking care of the kid (and that I could have taken 12 weeks).
This also means that I get first hand knowledge and experience with what it takes to raise a kid at home. There are some days where it feels like a victory to even have had the time to take a shower before dinner time, and other days I feel extremely accomplished even though I can’t name more than a few items I did that day. While I think more people understand that the one that is home raising the kids and running the house isn’t a walk in the park, there is absolutely zero chance of me ever asking Kim what she did all day when the kid is young and at home. It’s unfortunate that more don’t get to have this experience.
I couldn’t imagine not being able to spend this much time with my son, and only wish it could be longer and with his mother at the same time. It’s so awesome to be able to spend time with him one-on-one. I know it will be very hard for me to go back to work full time, but I know it’s necessary. He’s such a great little kid, and even if he doesn’t grow up liking the same things I do, I know he’ll still be a fantastic little gentleman that I couldn’t love any more if I tried.