Monthly Archives: October 2015
When you become a parent for the first time, the first thing you realise is that everyone has an opinion on being a parent or, more to the point, bringing up your child. Curiously, even those without children of their own are just as vocal in giving there opinion (whether requested or not). The one common phrase you do hear though is along the lines of, “make the most of it as time flies by.”
Now, as we approach our little one’s first birthday, I can honestly say that a year has well and truly whizzed by. Now, it hasn’t all been plain sailing by any stretch of the imagination. Mrs DADiator will testify that in fact, the first two months were a living hell. We had a baby that wouldn’t nap in the day, wouldn’t sleep through the night, cried for hours at a time, shat often and everywhere, puked often and everywhere (especially in our bed) and was generally a bit of a nightmare. Now, I hasten to add that Mrs DADiator had to deal with much of this on her own as I was still working full time (the odd day here and there from home) and although I tried to help around the house as much as I could with laundry, cooking, general tidying up and cleaning, the reality was that she had baby stuck to her like a limpet for most of the day (and night, as our darling daughter was bottle averse and insisted on booby juice straight from the tap). Thankfully the latter issue was quickly rectified with the expert help of the Sleep Fairy.
After 6 months, it was time for MRs DADiator to return to the land of the full-time employed and my turn to step into the breach as the primary carer of our daughter. A lot of thought and dialogue had taken place prior to us reaching this juncture; would we be able to continue on just one salary? Would I, a bona fide bloke, be able to pick up where my wife had left off? Could I hack it? Would I enjoy it? Truth be known, I was shitting it. What if I forgot to feed at the right time? What if I forgot to change a nappy? What if I didn’t sterilise the bottle? What if she died in my care? (OK a bit dramatic but possible nonetheless). As the days passed, our week of ‘handover’ from Mrs DADiator to me became a blur, and the next thing I knew it was Monday morning and reality hit me. I’m the daddy now.
That first day, anything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. She puked all over me, her and our bed first thing in the morning. Then, just after her morning nap, she had the most monumental bowel movement conceivable by a baby, rendering her clothes unwearable. Followed by another ‘Exorcist’-style, vomit-fest after lunch, requiring yet another change of wardrobe. I So wanted to prove to my wife that I could do it; not only do it but make it look piss easy. The end result being a spotlessly clean, beaming baby and an immaculate house with dinner gently simmering away on the hob.
By the time Mrs DADiator was due to return from work, our home looked like it had been ransacked by Gremlins, and I’m not talking the cute, wide-eyed type either. No, I’m talking the evil, reptilian looking fuckers swinging from the lampshades and swigging beer from the fridge and pissing in the houseplants. I felt like a total failure – and it had only been 8 hours!
However, the reality was that our daughter had been fed, watered, entertained, cleaned, dressed (and dressed again) and more importantly, was alive and would you believe it, happy. She’d survived. I’d survived!
Almost 6 months into my new ‘job’, and things couldn’t be more different. I look forward to each and every day with my daughter (as long as I’ve had my first cuppa in the morning). I have the confidence and, dare I say it, the expertise to know what my daughter wants, when I should go to her and when I should leave her to her own devices. She sleeps through the night (generally from 7pm to 7am with perhaps the odd little grumble here and there), has a very healthy relationship with food, loves being in the company of others (whether adults or children her own age), respects our two cats and dog (ok, maybe that’s still work in progress and the clonking around the head with a Mega Block will gradually go away) and is a happy, healthy and confident little girl. If I’m really honest, I’d say I’ve been luck to have the 6 ‘happy’ months whereas my wife had to endure the best part of 6 ‘horrible’ months. That said, we both get to enjoy her along with our parents, when they visit, and every day we see just that little bit more of her personality shining through.
6 months? It’s just flown by.
The first thing I noticed as a stay at home dad was the difficulty in being to arrange ‘play dates’ with other kids’ parents. Sure, going to BilinguaSing or Baby Sensory classes was a great way to get our daughter used to other children and interacting with them. But at the end of the session, the other mums would leave, perhaps to meet with other mums for a coffee and for their children to play together, whilst I would go back home and wonder how I would fill the rest of the day entertaining my daughter.
Now, I’ve no shortage of friends – male and female I hasten to add – but when it comes to the parent staying at home, I’m the only chap. So this puts me in somewhat of a unique position. Whilst I’m seen as somewhat of an oddity (possibly even a novelty) in an environment primarily dominated women, there still seems some reluctance for Mums to approach me and introduce themselves. Now, ordinarily I’d have no problem being the instigator as a career in sales has honed my ‘breaking the ice’ and networking skills to a tee. However, in this environment it feels a bit creepy if I were to do that; maybe it’s just me? I mean, is not like I’m a single man on the prowl in a bar. I’m a married man in my 40’s with a baby strapped to his chest. Not exactly threatening.
Thankfully, a handful of friends that my wife made whilst going to pregnancy yoga classes or baby massage, were happy to meet me for a coffee or go go swimming with our respective babies. As humans, our natural instinct is to find company amongst others like us. Whether it’s to talk, ask for advice, laugh or even cry on a willing shoulder. I think it’s fundamental to want to be part of a group.
Anyway, I just thought I’d put it out there as it has been playing on my mind for a while and I just wondered if any other Stay At Home Dads (#SAHD) felt the same or if any Mums have experienced a Dad being the only one in their baby and toddler groups, and what you did to make them feel welcome.