Your baby is here. You’re scared because you don’t have a button at your house to beckon a nurse. You’re scared because she spits up. A ton. You’re scared because her belly is bulging and you’re sure you are a doctor because you have high speed internet.
Relax Dad. You’re going to be OK, and you’re going to survive the first three months. It’s a reality that you won’t eat dinner at the same time as your partner (without a baby sitter-which you won’t feel comfortable about unless it’s your mom or your partner’s mom), you won’t sleep consecutive hours for many, many weeks, and you might drink more coffee (or in my case energy drinks) than water… but you will survive- and so will that beautiful baby. Here’s a few ideas that you might overlook in your quest to be Dad of the Week.
Don’t ignore your needs. Don’t ignore your partner’s vast and fleeting list of needs. Don’t fight the emotions that accompany the realization that your life is very, very different now that your little one has arrived. And most importantly, don’t forget to laugh- especially when you’re scrubbing baby shit from under your fingernails at 3 am after a particularly explosive experience between you, her, and the changing table.
Those reminders have been key in my early navigation around the odd and perplexing experience of fatherhood. Those, and rap music. Ironically, the quiet time I spend with my daughter has reignited my passion for reading, researching, and (eventually, when there’s time) reporting back to you guys on all the incredible things happening in and around hip hop culture in 2019.
In the womb, she listened to a heavy dose of soul music. We kept it peaceful, we always listened at night, and she always kicked and moved to Motown. Putting a playlist together for her to enjoy while she developed and readied herself for this world was one of the great joys of my life.
Once she got here-which felt like a movie in the least cliched way possible- we transitioned to soft rock. The nursery soundtrack was quiet and unassuming like the stuff played in a waiting room, or fancy elevator. I quickly recognized-during the playlist building phase of Baby’s First Yacht Rock-that there’s plenty of fantastic easy listening in this world. ELO, John Mayer, Christopher Cross, Fleetwood Mac, Shanice…the list goes on and on. It’s calm and corny, but early on it’s all about a vibe. Some babies scream a lot, some squirm around and spit the pacifier to the floor every twelve seconds, some can never seem to get comfortable. You have to navigate that on your own. You have to figure out which little dances and shifts of weight work for you. My suggestion? Do it with music- because your favorite songs will become her favorite songs through some eye contact, a ton of swaying to the rhythm, and a shit load of bad singing/rapping.
Now that we’re a few months in, we don’t hit the soft rock as much we bob our heads to hip hop. Nothing is off limits. Keep in mind, I’m not a maniac- there’s no street sweeper sound effects spraying imaginary bullets around the nursery- there’s a limit to the level of noise her little mind and body could and should withstand. But we vibe out, together.
This week we’ve explored MF Doom, MC Lyte, a healthy dose of Tribe, and CrasH Talk- Schoolboy Q’s tremendous new album. And while she has literally no clue what these guys and gals are rapping about, she can feel the love between her and I because of how much I genuinely cherish the songs I choose. Music is essential in our house, and our baby is quickly learning that silence is best for sleeping.
Helpful tips: don’t tiptoe around your house. Don’t vacuum and bang pots and pans when the kid needs a rest- but don’t whisper and creep around the minute those little eyes close. They need to hear and feel the rhythms of life, and for us- there’s nothing more important to that rhythm than our favorite songs and albums.
I cannot wait for the day we debate our Top 5. But I’m in no rush at all.