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FIRST PERSON: My Beautiful, Insubordinate, Cheeky Daughter and I

Fatherhood – My beautiful, smelly, insubordinate, cheeky, funny, loud,
daughter and I.

I have a daughter who was born on 30 July 2012 and she is the single greatest thing to ever happen to me. Not sure the same applies for her, but whatever; it’s my article.

They say that when your child is born you’re overwhelmed with love and affection etc etc etc, but I disagree. The feelings that overwhelmed me were anxiety, stress, worry, pessimism and dread, all mixed in with a rather confusing dose of happiness.

To clarify, I wanted my daughter, she was planned and I was delighted that she had been born and that mother and baby were healthy and doing well. I did feel an immediate and overwhelming affection for her too, but such is the nature of me – the strongest feeling was a terrible fear that I might not be able to cope, or would get most things wrong and would definitely balls it all up to the point of turning her into some sort of socially dysfunctional nightmare, bereft of any ability to maintain a healthy relationship with herself, never mind anyone else.

All of these things, I now realise, were just brain prep, to make sure I cared. And I really, really do.

The relationship between a dad and his daughter, I am told, is a particularly special one. I don’t have a son, so I can’t really comment with any real experience, but I mentioned to my daughter’s mother the other day that the little one knows exactly how to manipulate me. The response: ‘she’s been able to do that since she was born.’

Well, I’m not sorry. I like it. I know how to look after her and have done so since she was born, on my own, regularly and with a certain level of smug self-satisfaction and congratulation.

It is alright to occasionally feel a bit ‘oh, piss off’ about your child; in fact it’s probably healthy and very common, particularly when they are demanding your attention to the point of overriding everything else in your life. Children are people and people can be irritating. So it is normal and if anything unremarkable that we would occasionally wish they’d give us 5 minutes to have a dump in peace (for example.)

There’s no need for continuous and monotonous self-examination about it. Just let it happen. The majority of feelings any of us have for our children are love and affection with a massive dose of protection thrown in. Don’t let the intermittent feeling of irritation make you believe that you’re a git. You’re not. You’re just like the rest of us.  You’re a human who may have had markedly less sleep over the past 12 months than you would perhaps need in order to function as  arational; human 100% of the time.

Children are noisy; don’t understand that the football results are important because your accumulator hinges on Southend winning; can’t comprehend that you haven’t had time to get them Barney cake bears or that a yoghurt will have to do as pudding today.

They get annoyed, frustrated and cross. In turn, you’ll likely get annoyed frustrated and cross as well, but as soon as it happens, it passes. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad dad. It means you’re a person with capacity to feel something.

Wouldn’t if be far worse if you didn’t give a shit?

I’ll show this to my daughter one day and hope that she agrees that her dad loves her and has always done his best for her, even if he did occasionally want to lock himself in the bathroom with the telly, Final Score and enough food supplies to last a few days of peace and quiet…

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