You’re counting down the days to your baby’s birth.
The baby is born, and you’re suddenly a dad.
From performance anxiety to switching gears and baby swag,
Here’s what it means to be a ‘dad’ in a hip, modern world…
Everyone said that the day I became a dad, everything I knew about myself and my life would be forever changed. But aside from being sleep deprived and busy all the time, I didn’t have time to notice. Then came the well-meaning jokes, “Say goodbye to your party scenes, bro!” or “From now on, life is going to be all about diaper genies and baby gear, enjoy!” Of course, this was meant as banter with the boys. But what they didn’t know was that I was actually happy to ditch the weekend parties. I felt ready to make the shift from bike fund to baby fund and everything that came with it. Yes, I know it sounds like a cliche, but for me, this was it.
I’d never really thought about being a dad, but now that it was happening, I was buzzed. I treated this more seriously than I ever took any of my examinations - or at least that’s what my wife (also my high school sweetheart) says.
I had done the required reading, had “the chat” with my dad and one or two of my guy friends who were also dads. I had taken it all in - the good, the bad and the ugly and felt as prepared as I was ever going to be. But here’s another cliche - nothing can prepare you for the first time you lay eyes on your baby. I’d love to say it was all gooey and full of love, but not all of it is like the movies tell you it is. There is a sense of terror that seizes you - “what have I done?” “I don’t know the first thing about babies - how am I going to do this?” This is followed in quick succession by waves of calm “we’ll figure this out”, “I’m sure all parents worry about this stuff”. This ebb and flow of emotion caught me off guard. I wasn’t used to overthinking anything, was out of my depth and completely overwhelmed. They tell you about women working through the “baby blues”, but no one really says dads have a lot to process too.
In fact, those on-screen moments when you see the baby clutch his dad’s finger, and he’s suddenly transformed never happened to me. In my experience, going from husband and son to adding father to the mix was a gradual one. So gradual, in fact, that I didn’t even realise that my Instagram account had gone from cars, bikes, food and the gym to selfies with baby, baby in car and baby eating, baby in cute outfits and… well… you get the idea. Sure your whole world has been turned on its head, but for everyone else, nothing has changed and realised that it was my first big moment of feeling like a father. My world had been extended by a whole other lifetime.
Photo by Mohamed Awwam on Unsplash
There are several ways from then on that you slowly begin to feel like papa, daddy, dad or even dada...here are some of my favs’.
● I learned to assemble and fix everything from car seats to baby trays and toys - and I could probably do it with one eye closed and in my sleep too - Ikea’s got nothing on me!
● I do have a preference when it comes to baby’s rompers and bedding (but.. ahem...I’d never own up to that in front of the guys)
● Almost nothing scares, frightens or irks me anymore. I can handle everything from a mom breastfeeding in public to a kid projectile vomiting, with an almost Zen-like calmness.
● Out went my IPL cricket mania, World Cup fever and the latest level of PubG. In came Peppa Pig, Curious George and Dinosaur Train. Can’t really say I didn’t enjoy screen time with my kid, though!
● The only place I’ve ever be bold enough to sing or dance is in the bathroom. But babies make you brave enough to sing silly songs and bust a few moves - some funny as hell - ANYWHERE. “Doooo the hokey pokey… come on”
● Every other kid is always under the scanner to be a potential bestie for my pride and joy… and let’s face it, almost no one will ever be good enough.
● Birthday parties are a new kind of beast altogether filled with organic cakes, take away hampers and lactose or nut allergies. I miss the days of chocolate cake, potato chips, some kind of no-name brand soft drink, and passing the parcel.
● I have enough toys and clothes for an army but can never find an “outfit” for the baby when I need to. Shhhh I also, secretly, love matching dad and baby looks!
● I’m excited by the idea of baby yoga, water balloon fights, bubbles, and checking out what’s new at the toy store. Puzzles aren’t just for babies, you know.
● I can wax eloquent about everything from the benefits of bamboo cloth diapers to the best baby sunscreen and love it when other parents ask me for advice.
● I catch myself humming the tune to Frozen during a boring workday and wear a goofy smile for the rest of the day.
● I finally took my own and my family’s health seriously. I read up on my company’s health insurance policy and the prescribed vaccination schedule - something I hadn’t even thought to do before. I began to care about the benefits of everything from vaccine delivery to the efficacy of infant medication. I tracked the latest baby related medical advancements more intently than I ever did with the stock markets.
● My idea of happy hours quickly went from grabbing a quick drink with colleagues to anytime the baby was asleep.
● I went from browsing trendy fashion stores for stylish slim fits to making a beeline for the kids' section.
● Babies teach you patience and throw in some perspective for free. Howling babies get away with everything from chewing on brand new Apple watch straps to pressing the buttons on brand new universal remotes into oblivion. Any or all of these would have previously made me cry my eyes out in despair.
● There is something fantastic about having your baby fall asleep on you. Sure I’m stuck under my little bundle for a while and might lose all feeling in an arm or my neck for a bit, but there is no other place I’d rather be.
Photo by Tina Bo on Unsplash
My friends and co-workers have busy social lives and incredible Instagram timelines. But would I trade places with them? Nope. Being a father has changed from the ’50s and ’60s. And while the approach is far more hands-on and involved than ever before, going from Dude to Dad 2.0 is the most insanely satisfying feeling in the world. Who would have thought so, right? #HappyFathersDay to all my fellow dads. May your transition into being a father be the most fun one you will ever have with memories to last a lifetime.