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And so continues our running tutorial on the ins and outs of first-time fatherhood: The Trade-Offs. It's been an interesting year to be sure - you went from being someone who had no idea what it meant to be a good husband to someone who had no idea what it meant to be a good dad to someone who got his act together in a very short period of time- kinda. By no means are you perfect, like me (ya, right), but you've resigned yourself to the fact that life as you used to know it is over, and this new life, what we call fatherhood- mixed with some husbandry (not the animal kind of course)- is what you're all about. You're the protector, the hunter/gatherer, the breadwinner... the guy who wanted to take paternity leave so he wouldn't miss his child's formative years or Victor Newman's last few years on the Yand R. You're a dad! Now suck it up...
If you thought the hard part was over- the pregnancy, the infancy, the corn-filled diapers that smelled like a nuclear fart-plosion- you are sadly mistaken. Taking care of a baby is the easy part - keeping up with the costs of having a baby is the hard part. In life, there are trade-offs, and there are TRADE-OFFS. When you

go to the liquor store and they don't have your brand of beer and they give you the next best thing - two dollars off- that's a good trade-off. When you have a baby, knowing that for the rest of his life he is going to be demanding things of you, with no promise of anything in return, that's a whole new kind of trade-off - a bad one. One that sees you trading in your convertible for a mini-van (bad trade-off), your downtown condo for a home in the suburbs (bad trade-off), and your $500 a week dining out budget for a coupon book to MacDonald's and a case of white cheddar KD (bad trade-off). Having a kid is like moving in with your wife all over again- but this time, you don't get to keep sh@#!

What happens when you have a baby?: total life overhaul. As I mentioned before, say goodbye to the convertible, and if you have a motorcycle, forget it- it's gone. Say goodbye to your living arrangements- your nice, rent-controlled, two-bedroom ain't going to cut it anymore- but a $2000 a month mortgage plus another $1000 for heat, hydro, and utilities, should solve that problem nicely. Say goodbye to short commutes to work, and time to yourself (other than being stuck in traffic), and a bathtub without a thousand toys floating in it. Say good-bye to discretionary income, and socks without holes in them and t-shirts which will never be mistaken for rags. Say goodbye to your friends that don't have kids (you know it to be true). Say goodbye to money for beer, pot or wine. Say hello to expenses for diapers, formula and wipes. Say goodbye to shopping for yourself, and owning new clothes, and getting a trim (or just trim for that matter). Say goodbye to a world that allowed you to go to sleep at 4 a.m. on weekends and let you sleep in until noon the next day. It's gone. It's over. It will never be the same.

You traded in a carefree world of free choice and free will for a world of babies and bills, and box stores, where nothing is free and the taxation on your time and temperament is tremendous. But it's not for nothing. One look in to that sweet little face- the one that calls out your name every day when you get home from work- is enough to remind you why you did it... well, that and the hot nanny that now lives in your basement.

Stay turned til next time when we talk about the next stage in your evolution- The Stare-offs (between you and your wife, and you and your child).

Until then, good luck, and here's some more great links to remind you of how far you have come:

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