June 30, 2013 by Dadinator
A dear friend of mine is due to give birth before the end of this month. I shall be catching up with her at her baby shower on Friday. I am looking forward to seeing a bunch of friends from the city, milling around, chasing after The Lad and generally being a social animal. My friend recently posted a status update that made me think. She wrote “is really really struggling to grasp the full implications of what is going to happen in three weeks.” I replied that I still hasn’t grasped the full implications of what happened 20 months ago when The Lad arrived and I didn’t even give birth… So it got me thinking, what are the implications? What does parenting mean? What does it change? How big a deal is it? It is a hard thing to quantify, and a hard thing to describe, but I thought it was a worthwhile exercise, both for my readers and for myself.
There is a new human being that did not exist before
Well duuuuuh. Of course there is, that’s what birth of is all about, but did you stop to think about what that means exactly? A new person. Someone who has never been around before suddenly is, and they exist solely because of you and your partner. You freaking MADE them. I know, happens all the time, things are born and blah blah blah, but I’ll say it again you freaking MADE them! Now for me, that just messes with my head.
You are everything to this new person.
You see to all their needs. I’m talking Maslow’s hierarchy of needs needs. From shelter, food and safety right through to companionship and love. For a while there you are it, essential to survival and essential to happiness, such as it is for a new baby. Of course in most families there is more than one of you, so that makes it easier, but being so necessary to something so vulnerable is daunting. Fortunately their needs aren’t too complex at first.
They learn from you.
For a time there you, as parents, are their lenses to the world. They watch you, learn from you and copy you. Yes that does mean you need to watch your language, but it means more than that; it means you will imprint some values on them, and your behaviours good and bad. If (when) they rebel as teenagers they will be reacting against you and what they have learned from you. They call these the formative years for a reason.
Babies are a lot of work…
You do not get special powers when you become a parent,and you are suddenly very conscious of it. You’re a dad. Great! You do not transform into Superman or Captain Kirk or Banana Man or Monkey. You are yourself, with all your flaws, imperfections, weaknesses and quirks. They seem to mean a lot more though, they are no longer just your problems.
Your perspective changes.
Childbirth changes the way you view yourself and your partner. There’s a lot of stuff you may find you no longer have time for, most of it was probably not that important anyway really, but you miss things sometimes. You feel more adult without actually being more adult, and you seem to spend a lot of time talking about your kid. Oh, your perspective of time changes too. At the micro scale, it slows down. Everything takes longer, car trips, walks, reading books, watching a TV series on DVD… At the macro scale it speeds up. I swear my son, who turns 2 in October, is still only a few weeks old…. So there’s a short list. I hope it makes some sense to those who have children, and provides some help to those who are expecting them soon.