Being a Father: What’s It All About?
Officially, I am now a father, and perhaps I’m becoming an older, more experienced father. I do have 16 months of daily training. Nothing actually prepares or gives you the experience you need, until you have become a father. This is the reality of my new role as the father of a vibrant 16 month old daughter, named Isla. I could never have been prepared, no matter how much reading or talking with other parents I did.
During the pregnancy, I technically was a father, yet that new aspect of my self didn’t feel entirely appropriate, until our daughter was born.
My partner certainly felt her new role as a mother during pregnancy, there was no doubt that she’d now entered the motherly phase of her journey as a woman. Yet I, as the partner of our rapidly developing baby-in-the-womb, did not feel absolutely complete with my inevitable metamorphosis as a father. Now, I certainly feel that I am unquestionably a father, but what’s being a father truly about?
There is not one answer to that question; being a father entails heaps of different aspects. It’s about supporting my partner as best as I possibly can as she experiences the vast changes in her body while she grows with our baby. I didn’t always achieve supporting her as she needed. It’s about not freaking out or being insensitive as my partner dramatically transforms into a mother. I didn’t always succeed at maintaining my composure. It’s about awaking at any possible hour of the night to a crying baby that needs something which you generally have no clue about.
Does our little one need milk, or a nappy change, or a cuddle, or warmer blankets? I always hoped she’d need just a cuddle, because that was the one thing I could provide for her without any doubt.
I couldn’t provide the milk, until we began storing breast milk, and I didn’t always like to change a stinky as nappy at 1 a.m. Now, with heaps of exposure to changing nappy’s, I can comfortably change a stinky nappy; at any hour of the night, with only a night light on, practically one-handed, and without gagging. Definitely a major accomplishment for me.
Being a father is about sharing Isla’a daily adventures with my partner, especially when she has been absent for part of the day. I’ll recount Isla’s accomplishments, making sure not to leave out many details. I retell Isla’s latest achievements; like when she climbed up to our deck for the first time, when she loaded our washing machine with all sorts of random items, how she heard the cows in our neighboring paddock and “moo’ed” in recognition, or how Isla decided to poo on the couch. Ahh, so many details to share!
The best part of being a father is play time. I feel that’s what most fathers do best. Playing with Isla is heaps of fun, for both of us. I get to let go of my inhibitions, reconnect with my child-like self, and run-a-muck with Isla.
Our favorite game is when I growl, roar, and chase her. She pretends to be scared while waddling off to her safe zones and lets out an exuberant squeal when I catch her. Isla absolutely loves when I “scare” her. She is anything but scared, she’ll either hurry off to hide or wait patiently (often laying down with thumb in her mouth) while I come after her with exaggerated stomping and grunting. She loves this game of ours so much that when I talk to her on the phone and I make those noises, she’ll hurry off to hide in hopes of my appearing from the phone. Being a father is about heaps of things and it is definitely about rediscovering just how amazing it is to be sharing the vast wonders of our world with a vibrant baby.