Child number two is a game changer. I love both my children, but I must be honest and sat that at the moment I feel stronger for my daughter. The boy is starting to find some personality and is growing on me, but there’s no crushing weight of expectation. Nothing. Zip. Nilch. Which is odd because I was kind of counting on the deeply philosophical bouts of melancholy and feelings of inadequacy to help push me back into exercise.
But it also got me reflecting on the process I went through when my daughter was born. The five steps to the summit of confidence in my abilities as a father.
Stage one: the dawn of enlightenment
It’s a suddenly overwhelming feeling. It’s usually around just after you change your third nappy that the flood of emotion washes over you. I remember holding my daughter, looking down at her and realising that everything I do is to ensure that she has the best chance at life. I worked harder, planned better and became a better human because of it. Humans are designed to breed and serve our offspring, imparting everything we know to guarantee the future for them.
Stage two: changing the world
Shortly after stage one new dads realise how unfairly weighted the world is. You count your #blessings and realise that all of it came from inexplicable luck. Yes, you make your own luck by acquiring skills that allow you to take advantage of favourable situations, but being granted the opportunity to showcase your skills is pretty much a lottery. Your only goal from then on is to level the playing field. I’ve worked and been interested in content creation for a very masculine market for my entire professional career, so I immediately needed to change my perspective of the world when I found out that my first born was a girl. I consciously started collecting media that depicts or was created by the type of women I would want my daughter to emmulate. I started tearing down the walls of the patriarchy as far as I could. I’m still not done, but I need to tone it down now that I have a boy.
Stage three: crushing sense of responsibility
Around the time my wife went back to work and our life settled into a new rhythm, I realised that my decisions had much broader consequences than I first thought. A few drinks on New Year’s eve is the norm, but what if there was an emergency and I needed to cart my family somewhere in a car. Those drinks stop seeming like such a great idea. That’s just one of the uncountable new considerations you have to make as a dad, and all those little things can weigh down on you when the start piling up.
Stage four: desparate denial
“But the child will adapt to my life,” you think. You’ll make plans with friends and cart the kid along and carry the stroller up five flights of stairs to spend most of your time rocking a restless infant on the far side of the table because it’s a bit drafty. And that’s if you’re lucky enough to make it out the door before the tummy bug manifests itself in a torrent of projectile vomit, ruining your wife’s new dress that you bought to help boost her body confidence. You’ll endure, until you stop.
Stage five: content acceptance
You’re a dad now. Your instagram account is now the storefront to your joy. You take pride in racing the stroller through the aisles while your child shrieks with unadulterated happiness. You finish lollipops. You judge yourself by the number of smiles you can elicit from that unthinkably beautiful face. You can’t praise your wife enough for shouldering the load of early parenthood with such grace and strength. Your personal happiness is now found in cuddles and giggles. You think about the example you are setting and strive to be better every day. Your life moves at a child’s pace, and it’s better that way.