I remember going out with Michelle to various places and always noticing the families. Knowing we wanted to start a family some day, I would make sure to study them for a bit and see what I had in store. I paid particular attention to the dads. Some looked disinterested. Some looked tired. Some looked just happy to be anywhere.
When Michelle and I went out, all we needed to make sure we had were the keys and some money. I noticed these roaming family clans came prepared with enough packed to support a small army. Bags. Carts. Coolers. Kits. A trip to somewhere like Oglebay for the day just to walk around and see the lights was carefully thought-out and prepped for weeks in advance. Michelle and I, in our previous life, used to decide where to go that day on a whim. If we needed anything, we could just grab something while we were out-and-about. I felt sorry for the poor bastards.
Things have changed. I plan. I prepare. I anticipate. Going somewhere as simple as the grocery store is a 30 minute prep. Is Ava fed and changed? Is her bag ready to go? We need to make sure it is fully stocked all the time with: diapers, wipes, formula, clean bottles, water, bibs, a change of clothes, another change of clothes, medicine bag, changing pad, hand sanitizer, etc. What’s the weather like? Who’s car we taking? Does her stroller, oh, I’m sorry, I meant travel system, need to be transferred? Has she pooped yet? All vital information.
When we go out to eat, we don’t just need a table, we need an area. Hostess, I don’t mean to be rude, but I will tell you where we will sit. Trust me, this is best for everyone, including the other people eating in your restaurant. There has to be room for us, Ava and her carrier, the stroller and whatever else we are towing with us. I need ample room to get up and move around with Ava in case she gets fussy and wants held. You don’t like it? Fine. Have fun trying to eat with my kid screaming in your ear. Don’t worry, I see your glares and hear your huffing. They are noted. Keep it up and you will be eating your dinner off the ground.
Ava is rarely, if ever, a nuisance in public. She usually sleeps while we are out. Michelle and I do our best to keep our kid’s problems ours. If she is crying, we will get up with her. Just know that if she IS crying uncontrollably and we don’t ‘act’ quickly enough for you, chances are my nerves are shot as it is and I am stressed out a bit, so it’s best to keep your comments out of my ear shot. Just because I won’t take my frustration out on my kid doesn’t mean I’m not willing to take it out on you.
Whatever store we are in, the first thing I take note of is where the bathrooms are located. This is of highest importance. You don’t want to be caught with a baby dripping with poo and NOT know the best route to a changing area. No bathrooms, fine, is there an un-busy or hidden-away corner of the store I can utilize? Worst case scenario, we are heading back out to the car for a change.
When I’m behind the wheel of that stroller, watch out. I am willing to roll over, push through and race past anything or anyone. Our stroller is a tank. It seems the only thing it doesn’t have is a coffee maker. The thing has the engineering of a race car. It drives like a dream too. Easy to handle. I can be pushing Ava along with one hand while caring ANOTHER box of diapers in the other. It works great as a crowd displacer too. Just push right through them. I ran over an old woman’s foot the other day. She gave me an ugly glare. I called it even. Hey, you don’t see me sticking my foot out on the highway when I see a 18 wheeler coming. Move it or lose the foot lady, this train doesn’t stop on a dime.
So yeah, I ‘m that guy now. The guy that carries the feminine diaper bag on his shoulder. The guy that uses baby talk out in public. The guy that is walking around with a dirty diaper looking for a trash can. The guy waiting by the stroller in the store as his wife and kid shop.
I’m also the guy that loves being with his family. The guy that knows he looks ridiculous lugging a bunch of baby stuff around, but takes pride in being prepared. The guy that knows how much more fulfilled his life is now. The guy that hopes when other future dads see him in public with his family, they think, “That guy doesn’t look tired, or disinterested, or annoyed. He looks happy.”