I never thought I would hate weekends. I never thought I would like being at work more than being at home and I certainly thought I would love my family a lot more than I did.
That’s the brutal truth of how I felt as a new father. When Jenn was prego, I was told I would just have this innate abundance of love for my brand new kid and even more so because they were twins. Boy and girl, how perfect. But when it happened, I realized I was a monster. I felt like a monster because I wasn’t “that dad.” You know what I mean, “that dad.”
“That dad” loves the term co-parenting and says things like “we’re pregnant!” all chipper and glowy.
This Wasn’t The Plan
Before the kids, before the girlfriend, my whole plan was to be Cool Uncle Jeremy. “My Uncle lives on the West Coast and has a loft apartment downtown… and he hangs out with bands! Like, the music guys!!” That’s what I aspired to be; that’s how I wanted my niece and nephew to refer to me. Instead, I became the guy in LA in a garage band who got his girlfriend pregnant, with twins (that’s 2 babies, not 1, twice more than 1), and was having a seriously hard time trying to be “that dad.”
I Didn’t Know What To Think
When the twins came I was supposed to feel this soul-opening love, but I didn’t know what to think. They didn’t symbolize gushy, emotional love; they symbolized sleep deprivation and hard work and exhaustion, and sleep deprivation. They required so much. I felt mostly dread when I thought of them.
I know, what an asshole, right?
On Anchors & Independence
Pre-children, I was one of the most unanchored folks you’d ever meet: changing directions, cities, friend-sets, and all at the drop of a hat. But kids are like these massive anchors. They require you to think and act longterm because all of a sudden you can’t just move on… there’s real skin and bones and hearts in the game now. This realization brought on a great deal of both fear and hope.
More than anything though kids require you to give yourself up, not all of you but a lot of you. And that hurt, like, a lot at first. These kids were killing what George Costanza calls, “Independent Jeremy:” that part of me that was free, easy, unanchored, and all about me.
Over time, as independent Jeremy died more and more, a new Jeremy took over. A Jeremy that, honestly, I like much better than the previous Jeremy.
I realize now that my male postpartum depression was actually this: I was mourning for my old freedoms, for Independent Jeremy, for who I used to be. But what I see so clearly now, is that Independent Jeremy actually sucked at life. He hurt people and was selfish and immature and juvenile.
What I See Now
I see now that I actually needed kids and a family for my journey in life, to get into a better me. I am the happiest and most mentally stable I have ever been. I’m completely comfortable with who I am in life as well as where I am. Having kids taught me the high value of giving to others, something I rarely did before.
Nowadays, I travel for work, from one side of the country to the other, and when I’m gone I miss my family so much – that love is natural, sincere, vital to me. In fact, I enjoy being a dad so much we had another kid last year, on purpose! Just one this time, much easier but, I was much much more prepared.
I’m still not “that dad,” but we’ve found an awesome balance at home: the kids get a dad who’s there, engaged, loving… and I still get to meet friends for drinks, go to shows and do things that enrich me.
These kids and I are having a great time. Now I get what those guys were talking about before, about that gushy kind of love, that abundance. It just took me a little bit to get there. I highly recommend it.
BY JEREMY PAIR