Newborn vs. Toddler Fatherhood Challenges

Saturday September 4, 2021 // Naptime

A good friend of mine recently had a baby. He sent me a message with a picture of the little guy a few hours after delivery. I welcomed him to the dad club in my response back to him. A week later I got a message saying, “Where did this week go? Time is meaningless… Coffee is life…”

Truer words have never been spoken by a new father. Even though it’s been over two years since I had my first week with my newborn, I remember it vividly (as I imagine most do). The nerves — am I bathing them correctly? The lack of sleep — is it 8am or 8pm? All the new things in the house — where are the organic wipes?

Fast forward two years in my life to today. I just got the little guy down for a nap. For some reason going to sleep without my wife or I in the room has been difficult for him (and us) the past couple of weeks. It’s a new challenge that we’re less than excited about. However we’re managing. And that’s basically a microcosm for the last two years.

Babies and toddlers constantly throw new challenges at you. Some are expected. Most aren’t. We’ve had probably 16-18 months of our kid sleeping through the night without interruption 29 out of 30 days a month. And now we’re into week 3 of middle-of-the-night wake-ups and naps that require us convincing our kid we’ll be back in a couple minutes and hoping he falls asleep before he realizes how long it’s been.

Lego Stormtropper running through rubble representing fatherhood challenges
Running from challenge to challenge is fatherhood

Back to the point I was trying to make… Babies and toddlers keep you on your toes. That’s for sure. One day you finally get the routine down and the next something has to change and they get completely thrown off and the whole thing is ruined. You dust yourselves off and try again the next day. And you do this on repeat.

Related article: Memories from the First 14 Weeks of Fatherhood

I can only speak for myself and my experience 2+ years in. I’m assuming it doesn’t change much. The amount of issues lessen. Yet the severity of them increases. Or maybe the severity is completely subjective. From where I’m standing this feels like the toughest problem in the world. If we fast forward another two years, this new problem is going to be the toughest and the ones before weren’t anything nearly as difficult.

Maybe time isn’t a circle. Maybe it’s a spiral. Life progresses up and up and up. What lies beneath you feels small while what’s above you looks enormous. To quote my friend one last time: Time is meaningless. Coffee is life.

– Josh // spiraling upwards

A note for my future self if I ever come back and read this… The Nationals are getting boat raced in game one of a 7-inning doubleheader and it’s painful to watch. But you’ll never watch the same game twice. I definitely don’t want to watch this one twice.

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