The 5 stages of Dadism

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.


To my son Adam on your 36th week of gestation.

You’re fully baked. Well done. I started writing this letter from a cafe in Amsterdam’s city centre, with a lovely view of all the tourists marching from the train station to the red light district, you were 28 weeks then and considered viable. Cafe Kapershoek has been keeping vigil at the stoner pilgrimage since 1606, an unfathomably long time. I hope you see it one day, but that’s not really the point of this letter.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see many of the wonders this world has to offer and sometimes my appetite for adventure has interfered with my ability to be a functional human. Never let this happen to you. Rather love. Love with all your being. I try every day to do that, but my nature doesn’t fully allow. I’m an observer by nature and then can’t fully interact because I must always keep a critical distance.   

Start by loving your mother dearly. You’ll find it easy most times, but she can be difficult when she has her mind set on something. As I wrote that I realised that you can’t not love your mother dearly, you’ll be wholly dependent on her for a few months and you already share a bond deeper than I can ever understand. You’ve heard her heart and felt every rush of hormones as she flitted through the rollercoaster of pregnancy. There are some endorphins and pulsating heart rates that I wish you couldn’t feel, but we’re all mature enough to understand that it’s a package deal – my apologies for the prodding.

Your sister is very excited to meet you, but I don’t think she can fully understand the lifestyle changes your arrival will bring, but she has proven to be highly adaptable before and I’ll just spoil her with some extra love while you leech off your mother. I think you’ll like Isla. She’s smart, brave, articulate and as stubborn as they come. She’ll teach you more than I’ll ever know and will be loyal to a fault. I hope the two of you will form a close relationship and share many secrets.

If you don’t feel 100% love from delivery day, don’t take it personally. Your mom and I never really planned to have any children, but we seem to take to the operational bit of child rearing pretty well. You’ll be fed, bathed and rocked to sleep every night for the first couple of weeks, but the mass outpouring of love will within the first week.

Look, we’re stuck with each other, so we may as well make the best of it. I’ll give you reasonable room to grow into yourself and your mother will shout at you a lot if you don’t do exactly what she says, but overall we’re pretty chilled. Don’t try play on our emotions or throw tantrums to get your way because, for now, you really don’t know what’s best for you. Just eat and nap when we tell you to and you’ll be fine.

That’s pretty much my recipe for a happy, even tempered child: eat and nap. I insist on this because you’ll then be firing on all cylinders during the waking times and learn quicker. You’re a manchild, so you have to learn very quickly. Think of it as a survival tactic.

You’ll be fine. And for what it’s worth, I love you. 

The Eulogy of Lorraine Schutters

Lorraine Annetta Schutters was born to Susanna and Joseph Simrie on the third of March 1950. She was the third of six children, and is survived by her eldest sister Freda. The daughter of a bricklayer and a housewife.

She grew up in a modest home in Elsies River and attended the local primary and high schools where she fostered long lasting friendships with three special women (Charlotte, Elsa and Veronica) who my sisters and I regard as family.

Mom showed a flair for the academic winning numerous book scholarships which lightened the load her ambitions placed on her parents.

Leadership qualities manifested in her taking up the role of head girl at Elsies River High School, a role which she fulfilled with the grace and dignity that earned her many admirers among her peers. The love that has flowed out of those people whose lives she touched so many years ago is a testament to the person she was and we as a family are thankful for your kindness and support.

It was through friendship circles that she would come to meet the man who would later become her husband, Melvin.

I would like to believe that, despite what has happened since, the romance that blossomed between my mother and and father is evident in the way they raised my sisters and I.

That romance took her north to Pretoria, where she continued to spread her vibrant energy and form deep friendships with many people who have sent heartfelt condolences. Many couldn’t make it, but have made their deep sorrow known, this is too greatly appreciated.

My mother’s outspoken nature won her many friends, but there were also many critics among her relatives and in-laws. But your presence here today is an indication of the poise mom carried herself with.

Three children and a separation later and she was back home, in Cape Town, ready to start rebuilding a life from scratch.

The task she put ahead of all else was to raise her brood to be independent, free thinking people and walk with them in the path of the lord.

I remember most the walking. The three and a bit kilometers from Highbury to this church was our weekly pilgrimage. I didn’t understand then, and rebelled against it, but seeing how this community has rallied around my family during our time of need gives me a small idea of why.

Church was more than just a Sunday service. And while she didn’t believe in joining committees or fellowships, she was very interested in making friends and forging relationships. St George’s became a big part of her network of extended family.

Her children were confirmed here, I was married here and her granddaughter was baptised here. This church is as much a part of her she is of it, and my family understands the depth of the grief.

When I think of my mother’s qualities, her strength, resilience and tenacity come to mind.

She was the corner stone of my family. Our rock and our stone wall.

My mother weathered many storms, shielding us from the full force of life’s unpleasantness. She forever put herself second to the needs of her children, and it’s a shame that she was called to rest when she could finally see to herself.

My mother was a charitable woman who was selfless in her giving. I remember many times when I was forced to run after beggars who I’d just turned away because she made sandwiches.

But above all, mummy was tenacious. She’d never leave an argument, or let a lesson go unlearnt. 
It took an equal amount of tenacity and resilience to love her.

The hardest lesson my mother taught was to take responsibility. If it’s your burden to bare, you carry it to the best of your ability. You taught by example mom, and I understand it now.

She lived with grace, humility and with unshakable resolve. I’ll miss crossing swords with her sharp mind and razor tongue. I’ll miss laying my head on her hip in the afternoon after a heavy night before. I’ll miss her smile and infectious laugh. And I’ll miss the love she had for everyone that entered her life. She cared deeply, lived fully and spoke loudly.

Yes, we lost a great mother, sister, friend and woman, but she was never ours to have. She was always on loan from a higher power. 

To sum up my mother I’d like to paraphrase a Billy Joel classic: 
She can kill with a smile and wound with her eyes/She ruined my faith with her casual lies/She only revealed what she wanted us to see/She asked for the truth, but she’d never believe/But she’s always a woman to me.
She was frequently kind, and suddenly cruel/She did as she pleased, she was nobody’s fool/She can’t be convicted, she earned her degree/She brought out the best and the worst I could be/But I blame it all on myself ‘cause she’s always a woman to me.

I will love you and miss you for all of my days. Goodbye mom.