Today, being a landmark in the life of our family, Mr C has written a guest post about how he felt about becoming a father. He is a secondary school teacher from the north coast and has written education related blogs in the past. I hope to persuade him to add a few future contributions, but in the meantime enjoy a post told by dad
Twelve months ago today I became a father for the first time… and the second time.
In one year I completed my teacher training – in that time I qualified to teach your children how to use semi-colons, I qualified to educate them in the ways of the oxymoron, I qualified to affect their future career prospects in a tangible way that few people can ever have. Surely a year is enough time to qualify me to teach you all how to be a dad.
Except it isn’t. And I can’t.
What I am able to do is describe a little about how becoming a father changes you. Because it changes you – so everyone tells you. “It’ll be different when you have one of your own.” “You’ll forget what it was like before you had them.” Or as one fellow teacher remarked twelve months ago, “Welcome to a world of wanting to kill anyone who hurts your family.” He’s seeking professional help now.
Twelve months ago I changed. For a few seconds I got to hold the hand of each of my sons, carry out a ceremonial cutting of an already cut cord, and watch as they were taken away to be examined. In those few seconds I changed. But if you were to ask me how, I’m not sure I’d be able to give you a satisfactory answer.
There’s something there about how acquiescently I sacrificed my personal life. It’s a well-known fact that parents say goodbye to their social life when they have kids; we’d been warned about that by many smug been-through-it types. We were expecting it. Add to that the loss of sleep – including getting up an hour earlier to get the boys up and ready before work; and the inability to go further than the corner shop without military planning. I knew all that was coming. What I didn’t expect was that I’d not really care.
Maybe there’s the pressure that comes with being the perceived “provider” and all that that entails. Being a father is an odd situation. Biologically we aren’t set up to care for children the way mothers are. We modern fathers are supposed to be frustrated, or even intimidated, by our gender limitations. Trust me on this; I read it in an actual book.
Apparently we feel crushed by the responsibility of taking on a job that we feel utterly unqualified to carry out. We are meant to be terrified of doing the wrong thing. I do the wrong thing on a daily basis. I’m the king of doing the wrong thing. I have to say that the pressure I feel from my 9-5 work is harder to deal with than the pressure of having a family. Somehow the pressure I feel at home is more rewarding. It is less, yet greater. That, my friends, is an oxymoron.
I really can’t tell you how we change when we become fathers. If you came here expecting to hear answers I’m sorry. All I can tell you is that we change.
In my job I have taught many a teenage boy who has passed around his partner’s latest scan. My initial reaction is generally shock, followed by an internal shaking of the head in sadness. I worry for the child, I worry for the parents, I worry about society in general. I question how someone who doesn’t have all the answers to my comprehension tasks could have all the answers to fatherhood. But then I’m more than twice their age and I don’t have the answers either. I look at them, and they’ve changed. They may not have suddenly become literary geniuses, they may not have suddenly become wise beyond their years – but they have a look about them that says “I’m going to be a father and I plan to be the best father I can be.”
And that is the only answer I can give you. That’s how we change. Suddenly we want to be the best fathers we can be.
Twelve months ago today I became Dad, the only Dad they have, the best Dad I can be.