Look, I’m a first time father. That means I’ve never done it before. So I have no idea how I’m supposed to act, what I’m supposed to say, how I’m supposed to feel. The other day, I was watching an episode of Two and a Half Men (or The Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother – I can’t remember) and I found myself making this weird noise. It was laughter! I was laughing! That’s how confused I am.
So what do I do about it? I scour news sites in order to find articles that will tell me how I’m supposed to feel based on studies that have been done of large groups of people just like me.
And that’s how I discovered that I might be depressed. According to this, sad dads have certain unmistakable qualities. And while one of those qualities is not devastating handsomeness (guilty!), I found that I did share some others…
1. Depressed fathers spend a lot more time spanking their 1-year-old children.
Okay. Confession time. I have tried – unsuccessfully – to spank my little miracle baby. But it’s only been out of self defense! Ever since he became tall enough to reach into the drawer with all the big spoons and spatulas, I’ve been living in constant fear of him coming after me and smacking me around with them. I’m not being paranoid. Once, I woke up in the middle of the night to find him leaning over me, wielding an enormous ladle, whispering, “Soup time, daddy…” It was terrifying!
Then there was this other time when I was just sitting on the couch, minding my own business, and my son walked up to me and smacked me in the face with a spatula. What was I supposed to do? I tried to snatch it away from him, but then, with his other hand, which also held a spatula, he smacked me in the face!
2. Depressed fathers are far less likely to read to their children.
Yep, that’s me all right. I can’t stand reading to that little miracle. But it’s not because I’m self involved and care more about myself than his brain development (check… and check). It’s because he makes fun of the way I talk. As you know, my baby is Australian. But I’m American. He keeps teasing me because I over pronounce my “R”s and worship capitalism. I told him not to make fun of daddy and he smacked me in the face with a spatula!
3. Depressed fathers are more likely to be unemployed.
Well, I do have a job, not that I get any respect from my baby over it. He keeps saying things like “Why don’t you get a real job?” or “Call me when you get a real job” or “Back in the 20s, if you didn’t have coal on your face and iron in your boots and your shirt wasn’t made of gumption, you didn’t have a real job.” I have no idea what he’s talking about!
4. Depressed fathers are more likely to report substance abuse.
I would like to report the fact that I abuse loose change. I’m always organizing it, counting it, putting it in my pockets and then taking it out. I’m a mess.
5. Depressed fathers are likely to play games and sing songs.
Got me there. I love to play Monopoly, basketball and a game called “Don’t Look at Daddy When He’s Crying”. And I can always be heard singing my favourite song, Umbrella, by Rihanna. She’s a good girl gone bad and I love it.
6. 82 percent of the fathers in the study had visited the child’s pediatrician in the past year, which suggests that doctors are well-positioned to spot depression in new fathers.
This whole thing has been like looking into a mirror. I am best friends with my baby’s doctor. It’s just good to talk to someone, anyone, without getting screamed at or judged or told to do the laundry or cursed at in a baby language I don’t understand.
And sure, I’ve cried in front of the doctor and told him how hard life can be while he was seeing other patients. And maybe I shared that I sometimes like to roll myself up into a ball and squeeze myself into my baby’s bath tub with the hope that I get so small I’ll actually disappear. And maybe I keep saying over and over again “I’m depressed… I’m depressed…”
If that makes me depressed, well then, yes, Captain Science. I guess I am depressed.