Surprise. Accept that you’ll experience it, prepare for it, if you can, embrace it. This one I learned after a half-second of fatherhood, actually. Charlie V had my name for so long (as soon as we found out he was a boy) that I unconsciously began thinking of him as a tiny ME in Jessica’s belly. At birth, he had jet black hair. So the first thing he did in the world was teach me something. “I’m not you. I’m a surprise. In fact, I am Surprise. Get ready.”
Let go of design. “The Parent Experiment,” a podcast at one point hosted by Lynnette Carolla and Teresa Strasser (Jessica’s secret crush) had Molly Ringwald for a guest. She said something which struck me deeply. To paraphrase, “I’m really into design, but as a parent I had to let that go.” I was in the midst of pining for a twelve hundered dollar modern crib and this was incredibly freeing. Kid stuff is ugly. It’s in primary colors, made of plastic, designed first and formost for safety. It will not compliment any decor. Just get over it.
When everything is on the floor, he has nothing to do. I was complaining about the moraine of toys, books and clothes Charlie leaves in his wake to my Montessorri-teacher mother when she said those exact words. She explained why embodying entropy is developmentally appropriate at his age. It made me feel OK about the constant process of cleaning up around him. Now Jessica and I say “Order! Order!” while toy-wrangling or stacking a block-tower, and then share his glee at dashing it all with a rousing, “Chaos!”