Reflecting On My First Year As a Stoner Dad
On January 14th, 2020 my son was born, and (as cliché as it sounds) my life changed. It was about a month before COVID would ravage every aspect of our lives, I had just turned 30 back in June and it felt like I was officially heading into another phase of my adulthood. I had spent so much of my 20s aimlessly wandering, hitchhiking around, sleeping on couches, experimenting with drugs and life in general, never really too worried about stability or a future. I was blissfully ignorant, without really a care in the world, living this minimalist existence where all I ever wanted or needed was some fire bud and a good time. I experienced a lot, met many enlightening people, and came out with so many stories and life lessons.
And almost in an instant, holding my newborn son for the first time, I had to accept the fact that that will probably never be my life again. It became one of the first lessons that being a father has taught me, and I had to brace myself because although it was the first, it sure as hell wouldn’t be the last. And some lessons can truly catch you off guard and mess your shit up in life if you are not receptive to learning and evolving as a new parent.
Now that my son is a year and a half old, walking around, trying like hell to talk, being social, and developing his own identity and personality, I’ve found it important to reflect on what I’ve learned so far and some of the conclusions I’ve come to about being a parent. The truth is that this, like just about anything in life, is an experience that evolves and demands adaptation. So reflecting and doing your best to critically think is everything.
So here are a few thoughts and ideas I’ve scrawled into journals while stoned in the middle of the night, trying to sort life out. It will be interesting to read this year down the road when I have a teenager and I’m truly jaded. But for now, light this Alien OG blunt with me, and let’s take a journey into exploring new parenthood…. from a stoner perspective.
First Off, I Still Get High
I’m just going to put it out there – I still smoke weed. There, I said it. And I’m not ashamed, God damnit. Don’t get me wrong – how, when, and how much I get down with Mary Jane has definitely all been affected since I joined the fatherhood club, but it also has remained a priority in my life.
So why does it mean so much to me? I’ve been puffing a long time and these days it has become something of a meditative daily ritual for me. While many of the Karens of the world will see this as me having an addiction to an intoxicant, I perceive it more as something uplifting and enlightening. You stick to your glass of mommy wine and Vicodin’s lady; I prefer a bowel of some Kush after a long day of heating up bottles and changing diapers. Judge me if you must.
Again, you learn to make adjustments. Obviously, I can’t be ripped around my son and smelling like smoke all the time. I’m also getting older, so the act of smoking anything period is something I’ve been trying to deviate from. And I’m more nervous than ever about dealing with the law when carrying that loud on me (especially looking the way I do, #ThisIsAmerica). But the herb does help me with patience and empathy, two characteristics that go far when parenting.
Everyone Thinks They Know Everything
Parents, especially your parents, will think they know how to raise your kid better than you simply because they’ve done it before. But I’ve come to find that the experience of parenting is unique for every child. What works for one child may not work for another. You can follow the parenting Bible to a tee, embodying the idea of what a perfect parent should be in order to raise a perfect child, and you can still end up with a little Jeffrey Dahmer for a son.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with getting help and sound advice, especially when it comes to something as monumental as being a first-time parent. Constructive criticism can definitely go a long way, but there is a fine line between that and someone insisting that not heeding their advice makes you a fool.
The biggest reason I bring this up is that people can get into your head. As a first-time parent it can be so easy to grow insecure in certain choices you are making or paths you have decided to take as a parent, especially if you have someone in your ear telling you at every turn that you are doing it wrong. Don’t get me wrong – chances are that person has the best intentions and hopefully wants to see you succeed as a parent, but some people can be so dogmatic in asserting their input that it can be a real buzzkill. It’s important to have confidence in the fact that NO ONE will know your child the way that you will.
Define the Type of Parent You Want to Be
While my wife was pregnant, we talked endlessly about what parenting would be like. Would we push our children to play music or sports? How do we explain sex, religion, and racism? What if our child was gay or (*gulp!) a republican? We painted these hypothetical scenarios of things that will one day inevitably occur and discussed how we would handle and approach it. Having these conversations really helped refine each of our ideas of what kind of parent we wanted to be, and that helped strengthen our bond as a team.
Think back on all the parents in your life that you’ve met and you’ll realize that there is a seemingly infinite amount of “types”, all yielding different results. Who is truly to say what methods are right and wrong? Obviously, certain decisions have a glaring tendency to yield negative results, such as raising a child in a violent and abusive home, but even those scenarios have examples where the child grows up to somehow overcome their past and make a kick-ass adult and/or parent.
It’s important to do a lot of heavy self-reflection and thinking about your parenting, and then finding the confidence to follow through with it. Becoming a parent doesn’t mean you are done growing and evolving as a person; if anything, it demands even more of you and will accelerate the process. Through it all you have to be strong, firm, and consistent, which will always be an uphill battle, but if you define who you are, the rest will simply come naturally.
You Are a Product of Your Environment, but It Doesn’t Have To Define You
So many people I’ve known over the years end up falling into the trap of ending up exactly like their parents. Instead of redefining themselves as the parents, they want to be, they simply follow the template their parents left in raising them. For some, it can become an excuse to not truly try as a parent, and a justification to why and how they do certain things. It’s like the kid that got beat by their alcoholic father only to grow up and continue that cycle of negative behavior once they become a parent. But here’s the thing – just because your parents did it doesn’t mean you have to also.
It’s so much easier to simply follow the herd instead of forging your own way, but…. it’s not nearly as rewarding. I happen to believe that there is value and something to be learned in just about anything, especially negative things which most people have a tendency to run away from. The key to finding your own way is to reflect on everything (such as your own childhood), pick out the things you find toxic and keep those you see as beneficial and apply them to your way.
All the while it’s important to analyze why you agree with certain things and why you choose to reject others. If you grew up in a hyper-religious home, is that something you want to give to your child? Maybe as you grew up you distanced yourself from the church and developed more agnostic views. Or maybe you feel there was value in growing up in the church and want to give your child that but without the super evangelical parts that you no longer vibe with.
This is your chance to forge your own path; you just need to find the confidence in following it.
Women Are G’s, Men Ain’t Shit
As my wife’s due date got closer and closer, she began to grow a bit anxious about giving birth. One night, while sharing dinner with my mom, my wife spilled her guts a bit, seeking some sort of guidance from my mom who has had 2 of her own. My mother has never been one to sugarcoat or fluff things up. She has always been known as someone who will give it to you straight, even when you aren’t prepared or simply don’t want to hear it. So her response came as no surprise: “Well, honey, whether you’re scared or not, it’s going to happen, one way or another.”
I remember that moment like it was yesterday because I realized just how fucking gangster the act of childbirth is. For 9 months a woman has to prepare herself mentally and physically for what will inevitably be a significant and painful event. It’s almost like being on death row or someone revealing to you that date and time you will die – you know it’s coming and that it can’t be avoided, and the closer you get the more anxious you become.
Despite all of this, my wife handled it like a G. Witnessing it made me realize that not only could I not do something like that, but that women are inherently much stronger than men in so many aspects, yet they never get the respect they deserve because of it. Within that first year my son attached to her like some sort of parasite and all I could really do was act as a strong support system, which is something a lot of men simply choose to opt-out of.
This brings me to my next point – Men ain’t shit. Now, this might not have been the case for you, but I grew up around a lot of men (like my father) that half-assed their job of being a father, or simply chose to opt-out. Becoming a father has got me reflecting so much on all of the men and fathers I grew up around that were supposed to be role models for me, and I can only think of a select few that I would deem “positive”. The idea that there are men out here with multiple kids but has no idea where they are, who they are or what they are doing simply because he is too busy trying to live life on his own is horrifying. Personally, I couldn’t live with myself and I find it disturbing that so many men can. Seeing fathers this way has caused a big shift in my perception of men and their roles in society. I constantly find myself asking myself whenever I meet a fellow father – “Is this the type of man that holds his child and isn’t above doing traditionally ‘feminine’ or ‘motherly’ things?”
Now I get it – times use to be a lot different. A family in America used to be able to function comfortably with just the father working, and mothers tended to handle things at home, including caring for the children. But things have drastically changed – even with both parents working, a lot of American families can barely get by and most live paycheck to paycheck. But even in this different world, where women have willingly entered the workforce without complaining, many men still hold these ideas that caring for the children is a woman’s job and it is above them. And that is such bullshit.
Absent fathers is something that has plagued the Black community for years, so much so that it has become a bit of a cliche. So when I was defining the type of parent I wanted to be, a father that would always be there was easily my highest priority, along with teaching my son how to be a man that actually reveres women. I also try to catch myself from perceiving my role as a father in the wrong way. For example, I don’t tell people dumb shit like I’m ‘babysitting’ my own kid whenever I’m alone with my son.
While this isn’t everything, it’s definitely a major thing that has been consistently on my mind since my son was born. I’ve spent a lot of time puffing and meditating on these things, yet I still feel I’m nowhere close to having it all figured out…. and that’s ok. The sweeping lesson that pretty much sums up all of these ideas is this one simple thing – DO YOUR BEST.
When it comes right down to it, that’s all any of us can really do. And the vast majority of parents do just that. That’s why I try my best to reframe from judging other parents and their choices (which becomes really easy when you start making friends with other parents). No one has all the right answers to producing the perfect kid. You will fail sometimes or miss the mark, and that’s ok. As long as you do your best, continue to do so, and being able to recognize that you are doing your best (and when you are not), then you are kicking ass. Now you just need to learn to enjoy the ride.