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To the World at Large:

I, Nicholas Stirling, am a Dad.

(I will also accept the titles of Father, Pop, and Progenitor.)

I declare that I will not suffer idiots thinking that it is “cute” that I take my 3-month-old daughter out to go grocery shopping, as if I am some nervous doofus carting around a ticking time bomb of poop and tantrum that I have no ability to control.  If she cries, I can comfort her.  If she poops, I can change her.  It isn’t rocket science, so stop assuming that I can’t mind my child and bring home dinner at the same time.

Neither will I listen to people that think that my “new Dad” status means that every concern of mine is groundless and panicky.  I know when my child cries in annoyance and when she cries in pain.  I invest countless hours in understanding what makes her unique; no amount of parenting experience on your part with other children can offer more to my daughter than I can.  You may present considerate advice when appropriate, but you may not dismiss my own considerable knowledge of my baby as high-strung jitters.  When I am concerned, I am concerned with complete validity, no matter what you might think.  I warn those that would condescend and tease my status as a “silly new Dad” that I will not suffer such things, nor will I allow my daughter to hear them uttered in her presence.

I renounce the idiocy of our society that has made false idols of Ray Romano, Homer Simpson, and (to a lesser extent) Jim Belushi.  I do not fear diapers, breast-milk, puke, pee, or boogers the size of grapes.  I do not carry my child like a dangerous weapon.  I am not afraid of her tears, and I do not ignore her laughter.  I hold her close to me.  I tell her stories.  I slow dance her to sleep.  A pox on anyone that thinks that less than these things is good enough for a Dad.

I solemnly state that being a Dad has nothing to do with genetics, mating, or sperm.  You are not a dad if you do not know your child, whether 50% of that baby’s DNA is yours or not.  Those that flee from their responsibilities as Dad can never tie themselves to those of us that would sooner sever our own limbs from our bodies than give up fatherhood, in all of its messy, heart-wrenching glory.  Being a Dad is a choice and a duty and a great, deep, profound calling that leaves you nothing like what you once were.  Do not forget that when you talk to me about my child.  Do not forget that I have shouldered this mantel of fatherhood and I will defend it without concern for your feelings or physical safety.

I declare that I will continue to devote all of myself to my child.  I will learn her favourite colours, her favourite ice cream, her favourite books, shows, and movies, how she likes to wear her hair, and her preferred fighting style.  I will learn what foods she hates and will never, never use them in her meals, no matter how healthy I think that they are.  I will understand her the way that only a Dad can, because that is my job, that is my right, and that is my great privilege.  I refuse to believe that my love for her is just a feeling; my love is expressed in memorizing the names of her stuffed toys, and in knowing which one must always go to bed with her.

I declare that the birth of my daughter changed everything about me and about my life.

I declare that I am a Dad.

What else matters in life?