Written by someone ill-equipped to write, and just about capable of keeping a small human alive.
If men were really informed about what being a dad is like before they had children, there’s a better than average chance that the human race would have died out centuries ago. All the pictures and videos you see are of cute smiling babies with parents full of pride, or silly antics that are adorable rather than anything else. Those snippets are a mere glimpse behind a sticky, yoghurt stained curtain.
I can’t speak for all dads, there’s a lot of us after all, but if I’d been informed that my once social and active weekends would transform into a 100th viewing of How to Train Your Dragon and counting Lego blocks to ensure they’re all accounted for (and therefore not swallowed), I’d certainly have had some questions. Such as…
what is it like being a dad?
There are many things that being a dad means. Some come naturally, others are trickier to get to grips with. Something I hadn’t considered was the immediate transformation into a role model for someone that will need you for the most important years of their life.
As a man of, let’s go with “athletic” build (polite for scrawny), I don’t have the most commanding stature. I don’t have a deep and powerful voice, and at 5ft 9”, I don’t exactly tower over people either. With this picture of me in your mind, I’d like you to imagine this person being in charge of keeping you alive for the next 18 years whilst you poke every plug socket, swallow anything vaguely food sized and lose your hopefully stellar bladder control. Ask yourself, is this guy up to the task?
If you answered yes, you’re braver than I am. But until we are required to pass exams and physical tests before becoming a parent, people like me are allowed and encouraged to continue making smaller versions of ourselves. Now, before you think this little glimpse into dadliness is a gloomy one, let me shed a little glimmer of sunshine; I have a teammate…
a little (and loving) helping hand
Unless science drastically leaps forward between me writing this and it being published, women are required for the creation of these smaller humans. Again, I won’t speak for every dad out there, but I’m fortunate enough to have a wonderful wife who seems to have been put on this earth to look after our little one.
When I’m at my wits end, she knows what to do. When I’m packing his bag for the day, she knows what I’ve forgotten. And when I’m only upright because of the coffees I’ve engulfed, she has enough left in the tank to tag in so I can sit down and write a silly article about being a dad on my laptop (yes, right now). I might be able to conjure up the energy for a round of hide and seek after work, but somehow she can do it all the time. Must be all the gross smoothies she drinks…
being okay with not being mum
From my experience, babies love their mothers. Beit instinct or necessity, they do. Dads however are an unknown quantity to them. We don’t provide their sustenance, we didn’t grow them inside of us and, at least in my case, we go off to work for the majority of their day and reappear for dinner and bed. Our input must be seemingly random to something with no concept of time or why we come-and-go.
With this in mind, I understand why we are required to earn their affection. For the first year of the little one’s life, I was a consolation prize to be suffered whilst his mother took a well-deserved break. Again, don’t think I’m complaining as this too changes with time. One day the little thing will murmur something that sounds like “dada”. Soon after they start walking around and wanting to play cars or hide and seek. Eventually, the tea time visitor becomes a playmate. He’s a little different than mum. He plays rough and tumble games and lets you have the extra biscuit that mum won’t. He might even buy you that toy tool kit so you can “help” daddy do DIY… He’s fun!
my insight into being a dad
You see, being a dad is tricky. From what I’ve found, the way to do it best is to take the rules put in place to keep the little one safe and healthy… and bend them just enough to be the fun one. I’ll never be his mum, and I know that. When he skins his knee, he’ll need his mum to kiss it better. When he gets his heart broken for the first time, she’ll put it back together. And when he gets sick, he’ll need her to nurse him back to health.
But in-between those times, he’s going to need someone to teach him to kick a football, let/make him watch all the Die Hard films, and maybe even beat him at video games… until he gets better than me… And looking forward to these possible fleeting ideas of the future makes it all worthwhile to me. Fingers crossed he lets me give it a go.
unleashing your inner dadliness
My dad told me growing up that he’d take a bullet for me without thinking about it, which in itself makes no sense, as clearly he was thinking about it at the time… But overlooking that contradiction, it makes total nonsensical sense to me now. This needy, smelly, often sticky, ball of noise means the world to me. I’d do anything for him. Bullet? Sure! Long walk off a short pier? Yes! You get the idea. It’s been baked into me somehow that when it comes to being a dad, keeping him safe and happy is all that matters.
I don’t know when it happened, or what it is that he does exactly that made this change in me, but somehow dadliness has come out in even me. I suppose the point of this little ramble through my mind is that even though all logic says that parenthood makes no sense, it’s also the best thing in the whole world. I’ve spent my life building things, and he’s my greatest creation by far. Most people think it’s sad to have peaked in life, but most people didn’t make my boy.