Babies and the military


(White House photo)

I know nothing about being a parent and now I am one.

Lacking experience the only thing I had to fall back on was military experience. The Navy taught me to evaluate a situation, make a decision and act. Parenting is kind of like that, except it smells different.

Babies operate at all hours, and require near constant attention. So do ships, so we set up watches. (My wife got the midwatch; I got the 20-24 AND the rev watch. Unlike shipboard duty, there are no late sleeper chits for infant duty.)

Babies don’t let you sleep (see above). The Navy taught me to operate on a few hours of rest, and so far I hvan’t ntocied any impcta on my qulity of wrok.

Babies are messy. So are ships, but the stains are different.


Babies need fuel. So do ships, so we have perfected underway replenishment (mixing formula with one hand while holding the baby in another).

Babies tell you what they need – no dancing around a subject. If they’re hungry, they tell you. If they need changing, they tell you. The military taught me to respect someone who speaks directly and gets to the point. Therefore, she has earned my respect. And she earns it several times a day, all day long.

Babies have uniforms. So does the military – uniform shirt, trousers, socks, hats. Baby uniforms are the same, except there are more of them (what the heck are “onesies?”), and they’re pink.

Babies need to be handled with care. Military equipment does too, but – unlike babies – equipment comes with an operating manual.

Babies are easy to love. So is the military. I wouldn’t trade either one for the world.

But I sure could use some rack time.


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  1. You’re a first-time dad? Congratulations!

    My favorite “Navy prepares you for baby” story is:

    When our son was just a couple of months old, I took him to visit my husband on the ship. I was stressing and saying things like, “Be careful!” as my husband carried our son in one arm up and down the ladders. He finally turned to me and said, “Honey, if I can carry a cup of hot coffee all over this ship without spilling a drop, I can certainly carry my own son without dropping him!”

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