If a job advert read…
Male to help look after another human being.
Must give up social life, be willing to invest a lot of time, effort and money. Large parts of the role will involve cleaning up bodily fluids.
…it’s unlikely there would be a flood of applicants.
And no matter how many self-help books you read before the birth or pre-natal classes you attend prior to the due date, nothing can prepare you for the moment when you realise that there’s a proper living creature that’s your responsibility.
So why do we do it?
Because there are moments when it’s worth it.
It could be the time you suddenly become a man by gently and humanly disposing of a spider that you used to be scared of. Or fixing the leaking tap thanks to the aid of a You Tube tutorial. You put aside your reservations and roll up your sleeves because there’s people depending on you delivering.
Maybe it’s when they take their first steps on unsteady feet and go to fall, only to reach out to grab onto your hand to stop. Or when they smile at three in the morning even although there’s nothing amusing about the mess they’re about to get rid of.
Don’t expect to be thanked for your efforts. It’s quite difficult when they can’t talk and they have the audacity of muttering their first word which is ‘Mama’ but it doesn’t matter.
They understand that you’re trying to best to care for them in a modern world so dangerous you’re worried about wrapping them in cotton wool purchased from a pop up ethical stall because you were told that was the only place to buy it.
Personally, I didn’t get any support but I’m not sure how good it would have done me. We’re all unique, parents and children. There’s no Hayes Manual to guide us through it step by step. And it’s amazing how instinct kicks in when you least expect it.
If I wanted to talk about what I was going through, i’d talk to other dads. They’ve been through it. We’d sit in darkened rooms and exchange tales like war veterans compare scars. There were occasions I’d infiltrate enemy lines and attend play groups held in church halls where the majority of parents were… you know… women… and I listened to problems that made any of mine pale into insignificance.
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you being a dad is easy. It’s not. You’ll be driven to the edge of an abyss on more than one occasion. And then you’ll experience another one of those moments and you’ll be pulled back.
It’s the most powerful feeling in the world, to feel loved by a person you created.
Just because you don’t get a card with squiggly writing inside it or a pair of novelty socks doesn’t mean that every day can’t be Father’s Day.
If you’re a father that would like to share your experience, or someone who’d like to write about what a father figure means to you, present or absent, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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