So you’re a dad… now what?
That little blue book they give you at the hospital has nothing of use in it. You battle harder at putting the baby into the car seat than you’ve struggled with anything in your life and now there is this completely dependant mini-human living with you – for, like, the next 20 years.
What do you do? Whatever the mum wants. There is a good chance you were in that room and saw what she put her body through to bring this little person into the world. So, cook, clean, go down to Chemist Warehouse and buy maternity pads. Whatever she needs.
Best you don’t go along to to mother’s group, no matter how ok you are with it – it’s not for us. We don’t have latching issues due to cracked nipples or questions about hemorrhoids. Leave that as a sacred mum space.
We’ll never be mum, and in saying that, we’ll never win an argument again either; “Babe, did you forget to buy the milk?”, to which she’ll reply, “Well did you carry and grow a human inside of you and then have it ripped out of your body?” See…never again.
Just because we’re not mum, doesn’t mean we don’t have any questions of our own and aren’t scared as hell or frustrated that we don’t have an engineering degree necessary to put together that god damn cot.
Being a dad is a tough gig, particularly in the early months, and you can feel a bit useless – even more so if your bub is being breastfed and/or won’t take the bottle.
It’s a tough gig, super challenging, but you need to cut yourself some slack.
Find your dad mates – I understand it’s not always as easy as that, but with social media, these days, reaching out to people is easier than ever.
I wasn’t the first of my mates to have kids but I’m not the last either. I called my mate who was the first of us to go through it and apologised as soon as we had a baby. I said sorry for being distant, for not liking all the pics he put on social media of his kid. And sorry for not calling to ask if he was ok.
Then we started a WhatsApp group with our dad friends and it grew and grew as others became parents. It’s a place where we could chat all things ‘dad life’ without judgement, also without annoying the others who don’t have kids in other chat groups and who just want to complain about how bad the referees were in Friday night’s game.
Someone will say, “Hey, anyone free for a beer tonight?”. If so, that’s great, we catch up. If not then that’s ok too, we all know how hard it is. But a lot of it is just photos of poo in a bath.
I started following some dad’s on Instagram, and there are Facebook groups too. Not like the ones your wife follows, ‘Inner City Beach Mums’, where they just rag on their husbands and see if someone is a wing attack that can fill in for a netball team at the last minute.
Remember, it’s ok to not know what you are doing – and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Beyond Blue has a wealth of information about being a dad and the pressures involved.
Anyway, off to keep working on that cot.