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I've Got This Parenting Thing Down

My daughter turned 1 this week. I'm here to impart all of the child-rearing wisdom I've gleaned from that first year. So, yeah, this will be a short post.

Time flies when you're having fun. It moves way faster when you are forced to stop caring about yourself and spend every waking moment of your life making sure a tiny human doesn't die. And frankly, that's what a lot of year one felt like—holding on for dear life. And, oh yeah, make sure the little one is healthy and happy, too.

In the beginning, after the glowing aura of the miracle of birth washed off and we headed home from the hospital, every moment was sheer terror. I was scared holding her because I thought I would break her. If she made a new noise, I was ready to dial 911. If she wouldn't sleep, something was definitely wrong. If she was sleeping—oh my God, we have to wake her up to make sure she's still breathing.

Speaking of sleep, there was none of that at first. For anyone. Did that lead to more fighting between two exhausted parents? Of course not. Not because I have some sort of superior rock-solid relationship but because we only briefly passed each other like ships in the night (on the way to the bathroom). I worked during the day, came home to an exhausted wife who passed a baby over to me and went into a deep REM sleep for as long as she could muster. I don't remember a whole lot from that time, but I do recall one major benefit of the disrupted sleep pattern for an East Coast sports fan: You have someone to watch all of the late-night West Coast sports action with you. Granted, you need to wipe their ass at halftime, but still.

Then, a beautiful moment: This thing started sleeping through the night. Order had been restored. A 24-hour-a-day job had been sliced in half. My ability to enjoy a cold beer at the end of the day in front of the TV returned. I could watch a movie again, if I wanted. Not that I could stay awake long enough, but at least the option was there. If I really wanted, I could even go out and meet my friends. Just as long they, too, felt like any dinner that went past 9 pm was an affront to humanity.

On the home front, all of that fear and panic quickly gave way to what some people could loosely define as parenting. Teaching her how to start chewing and eating on her own. (Although coughs during meal time will forever send me into a massive choking-scare panic attack.) How to crawl. How to stack her toys. How to pet the cat without pulling out a golfball-sized tuft of hair. We could communicate. "Mama" and "dada" made their way into the vocabulary. Just when I think I can't be prouder, she learns something new. I can't believe I'm even more excited than the last time.

This kid has stripped me of just about every cynical bone in my body. I definitely don't care how much like an idiot I look anymore ...

Since I'm a dad, it's still my job to make fun of everything. And don't for a minute think I've missed out on a single opportunity to crack about my daughter's Michelin tire-like thighs. (What age do body issues take form? Hopefully not before turning 1.) But other than that, this kid has stripped me of just about every cynical bone in my body. I definitely don't care how much like an idiot I look anymore, as I stroll down the street cooing like a jackass in the most high-pitched baby talk voice you can imagine. The number of times I've sung in public has increased by 100 percent over this time last year.

I've also turned into one of those insufferable parents who will show you 183 iPhone photos when all you asked was, "Hey, how was your weekend?" I just don't care anymore. Having a kid makes you stop caring about looking like an asshole. (And trust me, I look like one a lot, so I would know.)

I've totally got this parenting thing under control. After one year, this tiny human has totally changed my life and is finally starting to turn into a real person—a person I am now responsible for helping grow into a well-rounded, intelligent and respectful child.

Oh god, the panic is coming back again.

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