When I first became a dad I constantly heard about how incredible it would be to watch this little thing grow up in front of my eyes.
Friends, family and strangers would stop to tell me just how amazing it is to care for this little person that is all yours.
As we took Little Steele home, I couldn’t wait to see all of the family traditions and fun unfold.
Then life got tricky as I moved from the possibilities of dadhood to the realities.
Don’t get me wrong, there have definitely been a lot of times of fun and laughter, but bloody hell, there was a lot of tough aspects I had no idea about. The 3am nappy change, the never-ending stress to provide, losing some aspects of your previous life, sharing time with your partner with this feeding/pooing machine and a general shift in most of your life’s priorities.
The clincher? You work through all of this whilst in a sleep deprived and more stressed state.
I don’t know about any other dad, but I had this pressure inside myself that I should have this deep connection with my kid quickly. It was really hard when I wasn’t. I cared about this kid and wanted to look after and protect her and my wife, but I didn’t feel that incredible connection every other parent told me about.
When everyone was asking me how it was all going I usually told them “Great“, “Fantastic” or “All Good!”. Don’t get me wrong, it was all going swimmingly well…the baby was happy, healthy, feeding and sleeping.
I’d proudly take her for walks in the pram. We’d hang out on the floor reading/drooling on books. NBA condensed replays were watched together on a Saturday morning. We enjoyed/survived daddy-daughter bath time each night before bed.
I knew I was incredibly lucky to have a healthy and safe family.
I always felt I hadn’t made this real connection to our little girl. That connection all these other parents spoke about with a gleam in their eye. You know that look they get as they smile, slightly look in the distance and their eyes twinkle with memories*.
But then it did happen. This week.
That moment you realise that that thing in the cot there is actually yours and you genuinely think they are incredible.
It happened during the most inane and boring time – while she was sound asleep. I don’t know what caused it or why it happened then, but it was an amazing feeling.
I’m not saying I didn’t care about my daughter before that. I just had no idea how much more I could care about her until this week.
It was like something inside seemed to click and I knew she was mine. It might not make sense to anyone else, but it felt like an invisible link between has been activated… and with that activation comes a sense of engagement and deeper connection with my daughter.
It’s insanely cool.
I get now why so many people were quick to remind me that the connection would happen. Why they were quick to say something and share a story when the journey of dadhood wasn’t all smooth sailing.
The one thing I wish they had told was that it would take time. Time given from me and time spent together. Like with all great, trusting relationships and connections, yo spent together is crucial.
For anyone else out there as a new parent. It’s okay if you haven’t got that deep connection yet. Keep investing and spending time with them. It will happen, it just takes time.
*Though I would like to argue I think evolution has a way of helping us only remember all the amazing baby memories…otherwise it might jeopardise further procreation