Being a father changes things, but not how you might think. Those who know these things are either already a parent or will quickly learn in nine months time. Fatherhood is something that cannot be taught, only experienced. But I am going to take a stab at it anyways…
Fatherhood strains a relationship. Not because of any previously existing discontent between you and your significant other, but because there will be a period of time when you have not fully realized your situation yet. You never do until nine months later and you finally get to hold your child for the first time. For your wife/girlfriend on the other hand, its been real all this time. She tries to understand, but cannot. She began realizing everything as soon as the first physical changes started happening to her body. Nine months seems like a long time looking forward at it, but its a drop in the bucket in hindsight.
Life as a father is different, but that does not mean you completely lose it for the next eighteen years. Yes, you have added responsibilities as this fleshy little meat-bag is now dependent on you and what you can offer it. That does not mean that the laws of physics have suddenly changed to where the universe suddenly revolves around your child however. I have seen many people lie to themselves by saying “I’m not ready to have kids because there is so much else that I still want to do with my life.” Having kids is not about what you have to give up, but what you want to include them in…
Many others tell themselves: “I’ll have kids when I am ready.” You are never ready and I am telling you that you never will be either. But that is the joy of it. Parenting is not about knowing everything and being completely prepared for every situation you may encounter. You will raise a robot that way by trying to teach them, not show them, the things you wish you would have known. Just because you are now the teacher does not mean that you suddenly stop being the student as well. You learn and they learn, and you both become the kind of person that you want to see exist in this world.
The long nights and less free time will inevitably wear on you. You will still go to work and still do your projects around the house because those are the things that you have to do. Its not that you do not have time anymore, you just cannot afford to waste it. Time that you would have normally have spent mindlessly playing video games, gossiping about meaningless sporting events, or whatever other leisure activity of your choice. If you were wasting time to begin with, then what really were you accomplishing? Yes, sometimes you do have to waste time in order to make time but by having less of it you will be more grateful of how you waste your time in the first place.
On the outside looking it, everyone only sees the negative aspects of parenting. The crying, the fussing, the dirty diapers, the sleepless nights… People see and latch onto the negativity, refusing to ever see the good. I can tell you, the good greatly outweighs the bad. My daughter’s smile, her laughs, her gaze, her curiosity… I know, it sounds all mushy and emotional but it is really some of the purest emotions that you ever can and ever will experience. Unfortunately, you cannot have the good without the bad and most can only realize the latter.
My daughter is five months old now. I see myself as a better person by becoming a father but not a different one. To those on the outside looking in, I probably do look different and, until now, have only been able to fathom as to the reasons why. I have not really changed, but my perspective has.