Dad Diary: She Went to Her First Party!

Saturday was a big, big day in our new (and little) family: we were invited to the birthday party of our friends’ daughter, who turned two years old. New parents will understand that we were a tad bit nervous: would our baby girl, only 25 days old at that moment, be able to deal with it? The first time we took her out she vomited all over her mom and proceeded to panic. Would this time be different?

We got up early, to make sure that if something unplanned happened (and yes, something unplanned always happens with a baby), we would still be on time. Or at least not unacceptably late. And so it did. We were only 30 minutes late to the party, which was a new record for us. In the morning we took care of Elif Marvel, cleaned her, made her beautiful, and — of course  — took care of ourselves. Shortly before leaving, The Wife nursed Baby Girl, I took care of the gas, and off we went. Baby in the prem. Baby in the car seat. Drive. Open Google Maps. Left, right. Straight. Left again. Now right. Straight. Left. Big turn. There we are!

Of course, The Wife (who was driving while I was sitting with the Little One) frequently asked: “How is she doing?” The answer was the same, every time: “Sleeping.”

Which is good.

So we got out at the garden café where the party was held. Our friends welcomed us. Some 50 people were present. Although Baby Girl doesn’t always seem to respond to large crowds well, she seemed to understand that this was a party and behaved accordingly. For the second day since she was born, she actually slept in the daytime. And when she woke up, she just wanted to have her nappies changed and hug a bit… after which she went back to sleep. In Baby’s world, that means she was comfortable and happy.

The Wife and I were shocked. She’s normally much more active. But perhaps we shouldn’t have been. After doing some research (afterward), I found out that more babies are relaxed outside. Surprise, surprise, babies are just like humans: they don’t want to be locked up all day long. They need to go out, get fresh air, and see new things (and people).

I know, not exactly a shocker for anyone with common sense, but I can tell you that to me, this was a revelation. Kids are just like us! Who’d have thunk?

And that’s not all I’ve learned so far. Another major revelation is that the child truly feels it when her parents are distressed, negative, or just “down.” The more stressed we become, the more she cries. The more relaxed we are, the calmer she is. So what does this mean? Simple: I’ve started to force myself not to get stressed anymore. My stoic practices come in handy there. The idea behind those practices is that you focus on what you control: yourself, your emotions, your desires. Everything else, including Baby Daughter’s crying, just isn’t part of it. Sure, you try to solve issues and try to find out why she’s crying, but you also realize that this isn’t truly up to you. When you go down the list and see what’s wrong, fix it without getting upset. And when you realize that she’s crying, well, just because, that too is perfectly OK. She is a baby after all. The only thing you can control is your own attitude and state of mind.

In other words: How you feel is up to you. The end.

Since I’ve started applying those principles to our baby, I’ve noticed that a) I’m more relaxed and b) she’s more relaxed as well. Sure, she cries — sometimes for a very good reason (hungry!), sometimes not so much (bored) — but when she does, I’m happy and calm, and somehow, that quickly calms her down as well.

Again, you wouldn’t know it from looking at them, but babies are just like human beings. When someone close to them is upset, they stress out too. But if those around them are calm, so are they.

And so the learning continues. One day at a time. Slowly, but surely. Hopefully, when all is said and done, I’ll be able to say: “I may not have started out that way, but eventually, I grew into the dad I wanted to be for my daughter: strong, patient, loving and wise.”