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My First Father’s Day

This Sunday is Father’s Day, and except for the fact that I already know Lauren’s going to give me a present, I am not really that excited about it. Actually, I am embarrassed. As a father, I feel like a fraud. I feel like I’m not a real father, because in the first year since Betsy was born, all I’ve had to do is rock her to sleep, feed her, change her diaper, and play with her.

To me, this is not parenting. I know, I am crazy. But parenting to me is when I have to start “teaching” them something or setting limits. I think when I can start saying “no” to Betsy and have her understand it, then I will have arrived as a parent.

To me, parenting is about being an authority figure, cracking the whip. Saying things like, “No, you can’t get a treat at the store. We’re going to go home and have dinner,” and having your kid have a complete meltdown. Or yelling something like, “Hey! Quiet down, already!”

It’s also about doing things like teaching how to ride a bike or tie her shoes. Those seem like legit, fatherly things — things that are useful. But just hanging out on the floor and playing with her stacking toys? That just feels like babysitting.

How sad is that, especially for an improviser? Why can’t I enjoy this time when the majority of the time is hanging out and playing with her? Why is that not fatherly? Because that is not how I am programmed. I make fun work.

I have been cast in probably one the best roles in my life as a caring, kind, benevolent father, and all I can think is I know a hundred other people who play the part better. People say to me, “How can you not feel like a father? She looks just like you.” It’s true, but trust me, that doesn’t matter when you are nuts like me.

I want to be a good father and to be the caring, kind, benevolent father that I’d like to be, but I have to believe I deserve it. And I think that starts with believing that hanging out, being present, and playing are just as valuable as teaching. Here’s hoping I start believing.

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What I’ve Learned So Far as a Dad

As you know, a little over three months ago, Lauren and I had our first child, a beautiful baby girl named Betsy Jane Carrane. Being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I am a glad I did not know how hard this would be or I wouldn’t have done it. Lauren feels the same way.

Here are some of the things I have learned in the first three months of being a dad.

  1. You will learn how to really smile.
  2. You will question why you’ve been teaching people how to create fake objects out of the air.
  3. When she takes a long nap, you will miss her.
  4. You will grieve and forget your old life.
  5. 9 p.m. becomes the new midnight.
  6. You won’t have as much time to isolate and have suicidal thoughts.
  7. You cannot believe people have more than one kid.
  8. You will wish there was a store that sold sleep.
  9. You will be judgmental of other parents to make you feel good about what you are doing.
  10. You will start spelling words out in front of them, like S-E-X, F-U-C-K and T-R-U-M-P.
  11. There are times when she cries so uncontrollably that you will feel like wrapping her up in a dirty beach towel and dropping her off at the fire station. But there are other times, like when she smiles first thing in the morning when she wakes up, that you feel so much joy you will want to drop yourself off at the fire station.
  12. One of the parents will be “pro” letting them cry in the crib the other will be against.
  13. You’ll get excited when she farts.
  14. Babies ‘R’ Us is a vortex.
  15. Every device that rocks her to sleep has a warning label saying it’s dangerous for them to sleep in.

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