Manifesto of an Unexpected Dad
I still remember that exact moment when I found out you were on the way. Time froze as I instantly knew my world just tilted on its axis and would slowly diverge down a different path than I had always imagined.
This was a lot to process in the moment. I knew I was supposed to say something, I think I muttered something like “are you sure?”
Walking away from that conversation I had two voices in my head.
One saying what the f%^k am I supposed to do now, and the other a combination of joy and relief… I will be lucky enough to be a Dad.
No matter how inconvenient the timing was it was always something I wanted to experience. My Dad has always been my hero, and it had always been a deep desire of mine to play the same role for a son of my own.
The first voice was much louder over those first few months as I adjusted to my new reality.
Doing the right thing by others is something I have always prided myself on. That louder voice still the dominant one in my head and I couldn’t help but think that I don’t want this.
The implied responsibilities that came with I knew would be something that I would never walk away from, and that made me angry. I didn’t have a choice.
Looking after the mother was just as important as looking after my boy. They are one and the same. So the sacrifices started immediately.
No more social life, no more travel, no more freedom to do as I please. I was not exactly living the high life before this moment, but if I wanted to I could have. Now I can’t.
I hate not being in control of my own life and my own choices. Yes I have a choice to walk away from this, but it’s not who I am. The thought never crossed my mind – and because of that I resented being told that I do have a choice. I don’t.
People will adjust to their new reality in most circumstances, and that’s exactly what happened. The loud voice softened and was overtaken by the excitement. It was only ever moderate though. For some reason there was just something that didn’t seem real.
The big day came. Unplanned and unexpected (of course!).
Earlier that morning I had told a friend that the doc said it will probably be another couple of weeks.
Within an hour of this conversation I was on the way to the hospital to meet that same doctor who was prepping the mother for an emergency C-Section at that very moment.
All the talk about fatherhood seems to centre on this day. That moment when you hold your baby for the first time you are hit with this magical, life changing feeling. I didn’t get it.
I felt very calm, and almost impartial the whole day.
I watched him come out of that belly and thought, well there he is.
I looked at the mum and again my first thought was what the f%^k are we supposed to do now. At least this was now we, and no I.
No matter what we now have 20 years of being in this together.
I thought there was something wrong with me. I mean I cared about this new little guy, a lot. But it wasn’t like everyone said it was.
When I phoned my Dad to tell him of the new arrival he asked if I was beaming with pride. I said what I was supposed to, but in my head I thought “of what? He hasn’t done anything yet.”
Again I asked what the hell was wrong with me. I was doing all the right things, and had been for nine months. I wasn’t feeling all the right things.
Maybe this all happened too fast for the magic to catch me on that big day, but it did catch up with me. Or maybe fatherhood was just an acquired taste.
It took a few weeks and he started to grow on me.
I had the feeling he was very impartial to me. I wasn’t really much use early on. Parenting is definitely 95% mothering in those early months.
But one day I did something and he smiled. In that moment I felt that he recognised me as someone who mattered to him. It was my first taste of being that person who my Dad has always been for me, and in that moment it all changed.
That voice wondering how I was supposed to live my life now went very quiet. I didn’t really care that much anymore. All I cared about was doing my best for him. Give him a great life and a Dad who loves him.
I have a feeling that all the details will look after themselves if I get that part right.
Now my life feels like I get to do everything again for the first time. Everywhere I visit, everything I do, everyone I see. It feels like the first time because I get to show him, teach him, and introduce him.
This is where the magic is.
Showing him the world and helping him grow into a person. He makes me proud every day, and that glowing smile of his is the best thing in my life.
It is not all sunshine and rainbows. Some days he is a downright pain in the ass. But I love my boy!
It was not a text book beginning, but I now can’t imagine life without him.