Dear Friend Who’s About to Have a Kid: Life is About to Get Simple

Dear Friend Who’s About to Have a Kid,

As an expectant father, most of what you’ve been told is that parenting is really hard. Other synonyms: difficult, tough, challenging, life-altering, impossible, a grind. But “hard” seems to be the adjective of choice for the modern, unsolicited advice-giving parent, usually along with a sigh and a head shake.

Sleepless nights, maddening carseat scenarios, nightmare plane rides, strain on marriage, strain on space, strain on body, strain on professional life…just a lot of strain, really.

So I’m not going to sit here and regale you with the countless other reasons why having a child will be the hardest thing you do. On the contrary, I’d like to make the case that, on balance, parenting will actually make your life a lot simpler.

Some reasons:

You will always have an excuse to arrive late, leave early, or not show up at all.

No more hemming and hawing when you get these texts:

Colleague: “See you tonight at the Christmas party?”

Boss: “Can you stay late to finish the project?”

In-laws: “Wanna pop over to watch the latest Meryl Streep’s vehicle?”

Friends: “Moving again. Help me lift the couch?”

A simple “Can’t make it. Kid thing” will suffice. No explanation necessary. Keep responses vague and you don’t even have to lie.

Best part is you can always hedge with something like: “Gonna do my best to make it, but if so, will probably need to leave early. Kid thing.”

Better yet, don’t respond at all and no one will hold it against you. No one gets the benefit of the doubt like a parent.

You won’t need to set an alarm.

It can be glorious when they shuffle in with bed-head and snuggle you on a Saturday morning. It can be maddening on a Monday when you were up with them until 3 am and you’re trying to get 20 more minutes of uninterrupted sleep before a full workday. Regardless, it’s one fewer item you need to worry about. Congratulations, your wife will birth the world’s most sophisticated alarm clock.

You will become more efficient.

My folks watched my boys the other day and I accomplished more in three hours that my pre-kid self would have in two weeks. Something about having finite amounts of time that ramps up your productivity.

You won’t need motivation to get (or stay) in shape.

There’s a reason we’re built to have kids in our twenties: millenials can eat nuclear waste between Fortnite binges and still stay fit. At 40, a trip to the post office saps most of my energy. But for the first few years, 90% of parenting is getting your kid tired enough to sleep, so physical fitness is as important as emotional resilience. If I don’t stay in shape, the nightly game of “Dinosaur King on the Mountain” in my basement could put me back into physical therapy.

You will never need motivation to go to work or to stay at your job.

Mouth to feed = “I don’t need this job.” Mouths to feed = “I can’t lose this job.”

You will become a better person.

Imagine life with a parrot on your shoulder and a mirror in front of your face, both reminding you, incessantly, of your faults.

Actual exchange from this morning in the van:

Sam: “Dad, can you put on the Superman song?”

Me: “Buddy, I can’t use my phone while I’m driving.”

Sam: “Why?”

Me: “Because it’s not safe.”

Sam: “But you just did it back there when you turned on the Batman song.”

Me: “I know buddy, but…(stammering). Hey, look at that excavator over there!”

It’s not even that you become a better person because you necessarily want to become a better person. It’s just less of a hassle.

So friend, as you await this miracle, take comfort knowing that just because something is more challenging, doesn’t mean it’s more complicated.

I leave you with the words of one of my favorite minimalists, Henry David Thoreau:

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”

Fatherhood will afford you to let alone pretty much everything.

Except what matters.

— Rory

Wanna hear interviews with dads? Check out The Detroit Dadcast.

An open letter to my wife and an inspiration to expecting dad golfers everywhere

Can you see it in her eyes? “Go play 18!” http://www.eschmidtphotography.com

(Adapted from the June/July 2o15 issue of Golf Chicago Magazine)

I was at the golf store last weekend for an iron fitting; Spieth’s Augusta drubbing coupled with blind trust in my brother’s equipment knowledge led me to the Titleist AP2s. I’ve never owned a set of irons that were made after I hit puberty. Brian, the club expert, worked with me for 15 minutes as I blasted balls. We small talked a bit until he asked if I had kids. “Not yet,” I said, watching a 6-iron draw toward the flag. “My wife is due in July.”

Long pause.

“What is it?” I turned around.

Brian’s face had gone from relaxed sales guy to concerned uncle. “I’m going to grab another club. The AP1 is much more forgiving.” He shook his head. “Let’s be honest man. With a baby, your once-a-week days are over. Hell, I haven’t been out this year and I do this for a living. You need to be realistic.”

This has been the refrain from all of my father friends. There seems to be an unwritten rule that once baby enters, golf game exits. I understand that reversing this trend is almost impossible. I understand that I’m venturing into completely uncharted territory, a la Jerry Seinfeld in the January, 1995, “The Switch” episode, in which Jerry tells George of his intentions to date his girlfriend’s roommate:

GEORGE: Do you realize in the entire history of western civilization no one has successfully accomplished The Switch? In the Middle Ages you could get locked up for even suggesting it!

JERRY: The point is I intend to undertake this. And I’ll do it with or without you. So if you’re scared, if you haven’t got the stomach for this, let’s get it out right now! And I’ll go on my own. If not, you can get on board and we can get to work! Now what’s it going to be?

GEORGE: All right, dammit, I’m in.

JERRY: I couldn’t do it without you.

GEORGE: All right. Let’s get to work.

So I’m Jerry, and you, dear reader, are George. If you’re a dad, you can live vicariously as I try to find the white whale. My editor insists that my quest to play more golf as a new dad is futile, not to mention toxic to family life. He is venturing into year 12 of parenthood, and his game has steadily declined. But, call me Ishmael. If you’re an expecting dad, pay close attention. Step #1 in this process is crafting a persuasive letter to your wife, which you may or may not publish in a regional golf magazine.

Here goes:

Dearest Andrea,

You’re not a sap so I won’t waste time telling you how much I love you or how you’ve made the last three years of my life better than I could have imagined, or that you are the one woman on this planet who can love me unconditionally, or that I am ecstatic that you will be the mother of my child. Rather, I want to start by thanking you for being the most pleasant pregnant woman I’ve ever known. My friends warned me about their “irrational” or “hysterical” or “demonic” pregnant wives, but you, my love — aside from swallowing a basketball — have not changed. Further, at no point have you discouraged me from playing golf. In fact, you’ve encouraged it. Well, there has been the occasional “You better play a lot now because July will be here before you know it.”

About that… Remember when we read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages before the wedding? Of the five we both prefer “acts of service” and “quality time.” In fact, selflessness and your preference to spend on experiences rather than material goods were two of the qualities that drew me to you. Accordingly, I have always appreciated your willingness to let me protect my hobbies and relationships that are independent of you. As marriage guru Kahlil Gibran says, “Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.” Thanks for letting me have my own cup. I concede that my “acts of service” have been paltry at times. I’ve left dishes undone, lawns unmown, laundry unfolded, and floors unswept.

That’s about to change.

I will make you a deal. If you allow me to play golf at least once a week after our child is born, I vow the following:

I will not go to the course unless the sink is empty of dishes.

I will schedule tee times that are convenient for you instead of me.

I will bring my phone to the course and, if you need me immediately, I will walk off the course, no questions asked. note: If I’m under par on the back we may need to negotiate.

I will support you in your parallel endeavor that soothes the body, mind, and soul.

Once allowed, I will take the child with me and, in the interim, I will research golf cart baby attachments that may or may not include a Benadryl I.V.

Should you have any added stipulations, please let me know. I realize that this is a bold request, but because of your compassionate heart and rational mind, I know you will seriously consider it. Thank you and I love you.

Sincerely,

Your loving husband, Rory

NOTE: Jerry never pulled off “The Switch,” but I’m convinced he went about it all wrong.

It cannot be the end for us.