How To Summon Unicorns, The Manly Way

by chasereeves on September 29, 2009 · 3 comments

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Daddys Lil Playa

Daddy's Lil' Playa'

Intuition is a funny thing.  It’s a hunch, a feeling that you know how something is going to turn out.  I’ve always been intuitive to some degree.  For instance, I knew when I met my wife that she was WAY into me.  That was an intuition, and it was spot on (maybe one day you’ll get to hear my wife’s side of that story).

I had several intuitions about being a dad, and one of the big ones was about how I’d feel towards my child. Would I just fall right in love with him? Would it take me a while to start to cherish him? Would I never really “connect” with him or with being a dad? I’ve heard a lot of different fathers speak about the subject and here’s a common story:

You know, it’s amazing how much you can love something you don’t even know.  Right off the bat you’re smitten with love for your kid, even though you have no idea what he/she will be like… even though it’s clear that this creature does not like you at all.

There’s no way to prepare yourself for that moment when you first meet your child. I just kind of thought it would be this magic moment — unicorns would glide out from behind the hospital curtains with little booties on their hoofs and raise their voices with the “crew” of mythical creatures outside our window… the chorus resounding, “So awesome, so awesome, the little dude is so awesome.”

But it actually wasn’t like that at all.

In fact, I felt much more towards my wife during labor than I did towards my brand new son.  As soon as the baby popped out I looked down into my wife’s eyes and gasped, “You did it babe!”  After all 56 hours of frustration and failure had pummeled her, my wife still pushed our son out. I’ve never been a part of a victory like that. It left me breathless…

I was a little confused about how to feel and behave towards my son. Though it wasn’t hard to act naturally about it; being “dadly” is something I was already good at (terrible jokes, beer breath, avoiding sex, general caring-ness), I was a bit let down that the unicorns skipped out. My intuition was that some sort of switch would go off in my gut as soon as I saw him; that my whole life would flash before my eyes and I would melt into the deep love of a father. But when I first saw him my mind could only produce this: “Holy shit he’s green!” (Not my most poetic moment.)

Summon Your Own Damn Unicorns

So, what’s the solution? How do you get more poetical about your child? How do you muster the feelings of “I’ll f-ing do anything in the f-ing world for my kid” without first drinking at least a little bit?

Here’s the truth: you have to fight to spend time with your child. This is the only necessary thing: wasting time with your kid. Your dadliness grows in direct proportion to the time you spend feeding, cleaning, wiping, holding, rocking, suffering, and generally experiencing your child.

And for us dads this can be challenging… We, as dads, get the social excuse, the biological excuse, and the career excuse built in to being men.

  • Social Excuse: Of course mom should be taking care of the baby, she’s got the emotional constitution to handle it.
  • Biological Excuse: Of course mom should be taking care of the baby, she’s the one with the udders.
  • Career Excuse: Of course mom should be taking care of the baby, daddy has work to do.

I am (and you probably are too) exceedingly excellent at using these arguments to excuse ourselves from doing parenty things to/with/for our children. But that time spent in “all for the damn child” mode is the time that grows our capacity to love our kids… and I am (and you probably are too) deeply committed to loving the shit out of my kids.

It’s Not Baked-In, So Stir Well

As dads, this stuff isn’t pre-built or baked-in; you have to work for your own sake to love your child. So the best thing we can do is “get” this; to believe it deeply and behave like the more we do parenty things the deeper our relationships with our kids will go, and the better our stories will be.

Quick-Tip: One of the reasons why mom is so in love with her kid is because she sits there and feeds him/her for long periods of time… just wasting away time staring, burping, holding, maneuvering.  If you can get some of that white-gold into a bottle, feed your baby as much as possible; it’s important time to spend with it and soon you’ll hear the velvet glide of the unicorn…

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Stretch Mark Mama September 29, 2009 at 11:22 am

I distinctly remember the first words I said about my second son: “He has no eyebrows.” Not seen any unicorns either.

You know, research shows that if you want someone to like you, ask them to do a favor for you. It’s a congruency thing.

So what is not only true in parenting (as you stated) is also true in ministry. Instead of serving those we already love–we come to love those we serve.

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Joy Eggerichs January 15, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hi Chase! I didn’t know you had a site–so well done. And I must admit, anything with the word “unicorn” catches my eye. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PL1ns00h-4

Great writing! Tell the wifey and son hello.

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Chase January 15, 2010 at 12:16 pm

HA! Nice!!! Thanks for the sweet vid… i will always believe.

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