That first year of fatherhood / dadhood is an interesting one. Great, tiring, exhilarating and tough beyond words – depending on the moment you choose to ask me.
As a new dad, I remember wanting to talk and find out about others’ dads experiences. It was like I was that robot from Short Circuit devouring all those books – but in this case it was people and their stories I was absorbing.
Recently, I had my second daughter and I’ve decided it’s important to repay the favour. Over the next year I am going to be sharing the things I’ve experienced along with the learnings I’ve discovered. Twelve months, twelve articles, a bunch of stories and tips to help others dads (and mums) out there with this thing we call fatherhood / parenthood.
I’m not saying what I share is gospel by any means. The intention is to help, because sometimes things can be awesome, and at other times it’s bloody hard work. Especially a nappy change at 3am – with press studs.
Particularly during those first six weeks.
(Let’s be honest – that just sucks).
I swear, the way people went on and on about these first six weeks it was almost like being 15 all over again. Just swap out all of those crazed conversations about ‘sex’ with ‘the first six weeks’ – it’s all people speak about, I hadn’t experienced it and from all accounts it was a strange combination of awesomeness and absolute terror. And it can get in the way of sleeping.
That first month of dadhood can be a tricky one, but you’ve now made it into the second month. What’s ahead of you in this next step down the path? This month is all about one key thing.
The end of what I call “The Blob Stage”.
Yep. Little babies don’t do a huge amount. Don’t get me wrong, they’re cute and bloody great. But, it’s fairly one sided. As blobs there’s not a huge amount of activity happening – besides living, feeding and excreting fluids.
They will be trying to catch your eye and make some cool eye contact, copy some of the movements of your mouth (which in itself is pretty amazing they want to copy you so much).
Yep, forget all of that blob stuff! We’re talking the real deal: smiles.
There can be so many things pulling on you as a dad. Work-life balance, new priorities, sleep deprivation and pressure to work but also be hands on, just to name a few.
But seriously, when that kid starts doing silly little grins and smiles while looking at you, I swear you just forget all of that then and there. It’s almost like they think to themselves, “Alright, I’ve tested them long enough, they need a little something. Cue the smile…now!”.
After all of this, what’s even more amazing is that around this month you might start to notice your kid starting to look at you a bit longer – like, actually look at you. It’s a pretty surreal experience (how often do you hold eye contact with someone for 10-20 seconds? If it’s on the train, you’re most likely weird, inappropriate or both).
The more they keep checking you and your face out, the more the smiles keep coming. Then, the more they smile, the more you do too. It becomes an all-round oxytocin releasing party, and sometimes after a tough, tough day, that’s all it takes to reset and start again. (And some days, it doesn’t, because unfortunately, no one strategy works 100% of time. A quicker than normal pram walk can do bloody wonders too.)
Finally, congrats to you on this milestone – you all did it. Free high fives for everyone. Please a pat on the back or six.
You successfully navigated Blob Stage and moved into Random Gummy Smiles Stage.
Thumbs up all round, everyone. Bring on Month Three, we got this.