I have it, you have it, we all have it. If you are lucky it’s better, much better, than reality. I’m talking about self-image. There’s a certain way I have been viewing myself for all these years, and while this self-image has evolved over time the changes have come slowly as a result of personal growth through new experiences and interactions with other people. This newest journey of becoming a new dad has followed the familiar pattern over the greater portion of a year. Day by day, month by month, I grew as accustomed as one can to the idea of being a new parent. Even as my wife and I accumulated more and more baby items, made the numerous doctor visits, and talked endlessly about our future child, I have been able to fit these changes into the slow evolution of my self-image to one that more befits a dad. And of course that self-image resembles the coolest, hippest dad that ever graced the face of the earth. I’m talking about the daddy image where I’m in a t-shirt and jeans, shades on, muscles glistening, maybe a tattoo or two showing, smiling, hair flowing, baby boy strapped casually to me, making full-grown women swoon! Check the pic. That’s how I envision parenthood. That’s about right, right?
I loved this self-image and lament the day my new car seat effortlessly killed it. Oh how the mighty have fallen! Up until this point I have been able to maintain, nay, build upon, that daddy self-image. With every new baby item that found its way into my home, every uncomfortable vagina laden film I’ve watched (again, vaginas but somehow not porn), I have been able to fit them into that cool self-image. Imagine my surprise at how swiftly and completely the lowly car seat obliterated all those months of self-image building. The car seat simply arrived in the mail one day, and as we are now about one month away from due date it was time to install it in the car. Mind you I’m talking about just installing the base and not the whole car seat. Poof! Self-image gone. Why is this so?
I realized that for me it’s because this is the first item that announces to the world my impending daddy-hood. Now I’m totally excited about being a dad, but really up until now all the items and things learned I could keep private and are not noticeable on a daily basis. I mean, nobody can see on my face the birthing videos I have watched. At least I hope not. But the car seat is different. It is definitely out there, and really hit home recently when I drove some coworkers to lunch. As we approached my car in the parking lot I looked inside and didn’t even recognize this foreign object in the backseat. For no reason at all it felt like I had to hide it. Everyone was totally cool about it, in that it wasn’t even an issue to be discussed. But for me it was like they had all just seen my dirty laundry. After all, there is no car seat in that sexy dad image. From there I extrapolated the feeling forward. Am I going to be driving to the bars with a car seat in the back on a boy’s night out? There’s no self-image I can build that’s cool enough to sustain that kind of blow. So now I guess I’ll have to adjust that self-image. Or maybe just buy another car and not have a car seat in it?