What No One Tells You About Becoming a Dad

A few analogies to explain the first nine months of parenthood

Alex Dobrenko
Human Parts
Published in
8 min readMar 28, 2022

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We have begun using this photo as a meme — I think it sums up my experience thus far perfectly. All photos by author unless noted.

I’m sitting in the backyard with four other people. Two of them are my friends, Chase and Michael. The other two are infants.

Don’t worry, the babies aren’t randos — we know these lil idiots. Chase has a one-year-old and I have a nine-month-old.

They are our children, and we are their dads.

Michael, a red-bearded comedian who drives a motorcycle, asks how the whole parenting thing is going. I never know how to answer that, so I repeat the facts, slowly, as if speaking another language I’ve just begun learning on Duolingo a few weeks back.

“This. is. my. child.”

“My. son.”

“I’m. a. father. and. this. is. my. son.”

We laugh at the absurdity of how true and yet obviously false these statements are.

A role I cannot play

It feels like I’m reciting dialogue for a character I could never, ever play. Dustin Hoffman and Chevy Chase and Liam Neeson and all the other actors who play dads were unavailable, so they were like “Okay shit, let’s get that dude Alex who still eats 60% of a salad with his bare hands in here and see if he can pull it off.” And now the production is underway and here I am, playing the part of Dad, for the rest of my days.

I am now someone who can say — and factually mean — “all that matters is my family.” What?! That’s something you hear in Westerns and WWII movies when the hero realizes, tears in her eyes, that the fame/money/whatever goal they wanted isn’t what they really wanted. That what they really wanted was right under their noses the whole time.

And now, that’s me. Or at least it could be, theoretically. Like there is nothing stopping me from walking into Ralphs to buy some Diet Coke and baby food and saying proudly to the cashier: “All that matters is my family.”

In my backyard, the conversation continues — Chase and I taking turns practicing the language, hoping that if we use it enough it will stop sounding so weird coming out of our mouths:

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