April 14, 2015

Hackers as Parents

I recently wondered what goes into being a newborn parent. Now I know and it's like a Hacker's life.

I had just got back home from NYC, settled into bed to catch up on emails and Github. Tamara came into the bedroom and sat next to me with a mysterious look. I had mistaken this look as the "I did something wrong" face expression. Instead of telling me what was on her mind, Tamara pulled out her iPad, started video recording, and asked me to sing a song (it's a thing we do every now and then).

After I dodged the sing-a-long, she reached behind her back and handed me a 4-inch device that had been put back into its original package. By this time, I had a good idea what was going down. It was a pregnancy device and it was blaring positive. Emotions were high and my short freak-out found comfort in the process. The process where it takes 9 months to make a baby, and I would need all 274 days to mentally prepare.

I was fucking scared. Even though we had active plans to get pregnant.

What goes into parenting a newborn? It's a question that I asked myself while waiting. After getting advice from friends, parents, their parents, and random people, I concluded that fathering a newborn is as native to me as hacking.

Let's think about some of the most exhausting times when hacking.

Fixing Fires

I hate it when VictorOps alerts me in the middle of the night. The reason I hate it is because it happens at night and the issue is the worst kind - server is down. To dig into my frustration, this means my awesome dream is over and my conscience needs to wake up. This is hard for me to do, and even harder with a newborn.

The same type of activity happens when caring for your newborn, though different state of mind.

When your baby is crying in the middle of the night, hate should not be a thing you think about. So not only do you have to fix the fire, you need to fix it without cursing the problem to resolution. You also have to be curious about what's wrong with your newborn. The two obvious items for my girl is either (a) she wants milk or (b) her diaper needs replaced with a fresh one.

But the point is this - patience is a virtue. You'll learn what this means especially when you become a parent. Real talk.


Ever since college, I've missed out on good sleep. Writing proofs, digesting discrete math, decrypting a lecture of my Danish professor before examination. These things often required sleepless nights.

Once more, work deadlines fuel with adrenaline to ship often end in restless nights. This cultural heuristic is fading, but having a random sleep schedule turns out to be great training for parenting.

Here's the difference though. Parenting a newborn is a Hackathon on repeat forever. I'm only two weeks in and I already feel like a zombie, infested with baby throw up and milk residue. It's a Father's paradise.

Bug Daze

Sometimes when I debug a code error, I get stuck or become tired at looking at the code in question. A break may help but pairing with a co-worker yields more energy, less time wasted and a chance to recognize the power of team.

When Tamara needs rest, I take care of Tayven and try my best not to bug her (unless Tayven wants milk). The last two weeks have been especially helpful because when Tamara and I both need a break, Tamara's mom steps in to watch over Tayven.

Team parenting with Tamara has been powerful and will only get better. It lets each of us renew our energy and load balance our responsibility as parents.

If your worried about parenting a newborn child, being a Hacker has made you better equipped than most. The next step is figuring out how to parent when they're no longer newborns.

I have a year or two to figure that out.