While I held my baby, I learned how to hold my heart.

I knew nothing would be the same after having a child. But, I didn’t realize how much I’d never be the same.

The very composition of my heart changed. The little blood vessels, muscle tissue, and cells that make up my heart all refashioned themselves. My innards got a makeover and, as a result, the way I connected and carried the invisible parts of myself all changed.

The practice of taking up space.

It has gotten so much harder to find space now. The logistics and packing are overwhelming. The communication is shoddy. The understanding from people who aren’t in it as full time parents is nonexistent. The emotional and physical effort it takes to create space is daunting. Sometimes it feels easier to just go with the flow. Allow the natural flow of being crowded out.

Holding space has never been this heavy.

People told me parenting is the hardest thing they’ve ever done. People told me that no one knows what they are doing. When my wife was pregnant and during hard times of parenting, these are all things I heard from friends and acquaintances. They left something out. No one ever told me how often there is nothing to do.

Being a parent is not a job.

Parenting is just part of the professionalized pinterest pack with its grabby headlines about 5 ways to stop a tantrum in its tracks, precious clothes, and picturesque outdoor activities. It appears that everything can be an outlet for perfectionism, specialization, and over-thinking.

When my to-do list became a coaster.

It took me a few months to realize that my to-do list had become a coaster. After my daughter was born I was a hopeful, green grasshopper. I believed that despite having an adorable, small human strapped to my body almost all the time, I’d still get shit done.

I am Bapa.

I went to a therapist to figure out what my kid should call me. I know what you’re thinking. How could it be that difficult? Aren’t there only the 2 choices: Mom and Dad? And they aren’t usually choices, but assigned titles you get based on your sex and parental status. For me, it didn’t feel so simple.

My parenting instincts never showed up.

When my child was born, I was certain my parental instinct would wake from whatever depths it had been lying latent. I had the impression that a parent’s intuition was all part of the parenting package deal. Surely mother nature has figured out how to provide us with the tools of the trade within our very own biology.

The exhausting vigilance of parenthood.

The entire first year of my daughter’s life, I watched. With all of my attention and energy, I watched. Even when I slept, I was still “on watch,” ready to wake and respond. The vigilance was constant. What appeared from the outside to be a peaceful, domestic scene in reality felt like a I was always standing guard. I had to make sure the baby stayed alive.

The poop, prose, and poetry of parenting.

There is this video my wife took of my daughter when she was a few weeks old. My wife is adoring our child with the camera. She’s recording all the minute changes of her facial expressions. How she so easily goes from a furrowed brow to a look of surprise. Her tiny coos. Her drool. My wife is wholly and obviously in love with her subject. And you can hear me in the background.

What's with all the gauzy, amber-tinted newborn photos?

A few hours after our daughter was born, a hospital photographer offered to come to our room to take photos of our newborn and us. My wife had just pushed a human through her vagina. We hadn’t slept in 32 hours, and wouldn’t sleep for another 10. So, sure, why not come to our darkened room where my wife is grabbing her boob and shoving it in my daughter’s mouth as my wife’s catheter bag mysteriously fills with yellow liquid and take pictures.

There was a chicken in the house when my wife went into labor.

There was a chicken in the house when my wife went into labor. An Araucana to be precise. We keep a wee flock of 6 chickens in our yard (less when there’s a hungry gray fox about). She had somehow cut the spot right above her beak and was bleeding profusely. I had brought her into the house to clean the wound when I heard it. It was the undeniable sound of someone experiencing holy-shit-it’s-time-to-go-to-the-hospital-contractions.

Hi. I'm a Monster Hugger.

I have learned one glorious and awful lesson since becoming a parent: it’s that a broken heart is beautiful. When a heart breaks it’s not falling apart. It’s breaking open. I believe being broken hearted is a natural state of human existence.