Fathership, Inspiration, Men, Our Youth

5 Thoughts on the First Year of Fatherhood

By Pete Cataldo

The celebration of a baby’s first birthday is almost more about mom and dad than it is about the actual baby.

You’ve survived an entire year as parents and lived to tell the tale. High fives all around.

It’s funny how first time parents anticipate and get excited over the completion of those opening 365 days of child-raising. That’s like 13,651 diapers or something, right? That alone should be worth some kind of reward.

The hard reality is that behind door number two is really just the rest of our lives as parents. Sure, you proved to yourselves that you can actually do this without breaking a baby for an entire year – an accomplishment in and of itself, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg called parenthood. 

But there’s something about getting through an official year and hitting that milestone that forces us into a bit of introspection and reflection. It feels like this awesome achievement you’ve just unlocked on the Playstation.

For that first time parent, this is the perfect time to step back and reflect and pat yourself on the back that you helped raise a little person into a one year old. It allows for the opportunity to look within to see how you’ve changed as a person while managing to raise an actual little person.

Here are a few of the things I’ve learned along the way through this opening leg of the journey: The good, the bad and the poopy edition.

1. Trial and error (…and error and error)
One of the very first rude awakenings as a parent is when they pack you up and send you home from the hospital after just two to three days with this newborn baby that is 100 percent dependent on you. And they arm Mommy and Daddy with… nothing. Until we figure out how to write the perfect instruction manual for how to raise the perfect child, first-time parents are left with the game of “let’s try this to see if it works.” Of course this only works for a little while, until the baby gets wise enough to realize that she is the one that’s actually in charge and will flip the script on you to ensure that you are always one step behind in the parental game of life. If at first you don’t succeed …

2. It can be scary, lonely world
Sometimes in the first few weeks of parenthood, when we are left to our random thoughts in the middle of another late-night feeding for our newborn, it gets lonely. It gets scary. We think that we are literally the only human being alive at 3:30 in the morning that is spending time trying to console this fussy little baby. Even though you’ve expanded the family, the loneliness of parenting can actually creep up on you as the weight of being responsible for this little offspring sets in and the totality of your role as parent takes its toll. It’s okay to be scared. If we aren’t terrified about some of the things we need to do as we learn how to be a parent, we aren’t parenting well enough.

3. Don’t listen to Google
According to the world wide web of information and parental milestones, by the first year of birth, my daughter should be speaking three or four languages fluently, she should be making her voice heard in the international philanthropic community and she should be physically gifted enough to compete in American Ninja Warrior. Despite what my latest Google search revealed, my kid will develop exactly how she’s supposed to develop: On her own. Regardless of the latest Facebook post of my cousin’s nephew’s sister’s best friend’s 3-month old son who juggled three Olympic torches while reciting the Mandarin alphabet, there is no need to get all hot and bothered over the fact that my daughter can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Read more at: 5 Thoughts on the First Year of Fatherhood

About Proud Poppas United

A former Youth Division Aide and Mental Health Therapist with the Office of Children and Family Services turned his reduction-in-force experience into a win-win situation, and many are reaping this harvest. When Tyrone “Zire” McCants, who is also a versatile services photographer and visionary in the Phoenix, AZ, lost his job; he took his youthful interest in photography and his prior knowledge from working in a family-centered position into new ventures. He even figured out a way to coincide his two passions into meaningful opportunities to advance his cause. The layoff he faced freed him up to develop his photography business (Zire Photography & Graphics) and to showcase his skills as a prolific artist. One of those ventures that McCants created was an initiative called Proud Poppas United; which is a community-based group designed to strengthen the bonds between fathers & their children. It aims to encourage a tradition of fatherhood and family, increasing the number of active fathers in our community. When McCants isn’t intellectually cultivating his repertoire of talents, he manages to merge his interest in photography with his desire and passion for fatherhood. Using the Proud Poppas Photo Project, as his flagship initiative, he displays images which celebrate and encourage the pride of being an active father. In many minority and ethnic communities, there is a progressive concern of absentee fathers and the devastating effects of this challenge on our children, our families, and community. He also believes that by displaying these images will help to shed light on and celebrate the gift of fatherhood. He hopes that this movement will also become contagious and bring other men closer to their children and families, and encourage a presence of well-being and development in our children, our families, our communities and our people as a whole. McCants quotes that “My scope is capturing the energy between a father and his children” and that’s what he is creating through his community development initiatives. Through, a first look into the reality concerning “Responsible Fathers” many disturbing statistics and contributing factors related to absent fathers. But, to the credit of McCants, he has been able to overlook the negative stereotypes and prejudices that have perpetuated his community and rise to the occasion. Although, he wears many hats that provide guidance and leadership to the infrastructure of his life’s purpose. To all of the fathers out there with the silent victories of triumph and the principle-centered leadership; who fight depression, financial woes, relationship conflicts, the penal system and the racism of our day; McCants say’s “Thank you” for all that you have been able to get accomplished behind your veil of anonymity. You have just endured the last 13 years of this millennium, and you are still here to tell about it. Although some will say that these last few years have been amazing they are still asleep to the fact that; we (The black community) must work with higher ideals versus dollars and cents. We must look within ourselves and see us as being brave, black, accountable, and reliable. The truth of the matter is that you are embracing fatherhood but at a frequency that may not be understood. I am with you as we will not look at the diluted statistics but at the “transformational leadership” that is displayed by all black fathers and role models everywhere. Don’t give up now as our families are leaning on you in these times of difficulty to represent us to the best of your ability as the “Mighty Men of Valor.” You are the man for the job, and now it’s time to come out of hiding and show the world what real black men look like; and we represent as a tribe of Intellectual builders, teachers, warriors, leaders and Kings. “Fatherhood is not a right; it’s a privilege. Your children are the best part of you. I send my love to this new generation of fathers who have learned from the sins of the past and take a very active role in the lives of our children. ~RAPPER TALIB KWELI, FATHER OF TWO


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