Experiences of a one year old Father !!!
‘Bachelor to Father’ – You might be wondering why the title is missing the intermediate ‘Husband’ phase in the life of a man. Also why the question about ‘part time’ job? This amusement will be mainly for the single & married-without-kids people and I presume that the parents reading this blog would know the reason already. While you are right on your part to think that the ‘Husband’ phase is so important in our life, the transition from single to married is of a smaller magnitude compared to the transition to parenthood, as shown below. Most of the times the challenges of the fatherhood phase will be a bouncer for the hubby. Now amidst all these bouncers in my life, I saw a video of inspirational speaker Mahatria Ra who mentioned that fathers are ‘Part Time Fathers’ and this blog will tell my take on that. It may or may not be true for you, but I think the majority of you will resonate with the thoughts penned here.
From being single to getting married – nothing much changes actually for both partners (and you’ll realize this only after you become a parent), other than accommodating your partner and understanding her – compared to what changes during the parenthood phase. I know there are cases where getting married itself might have become a hell experience for the partners – however that dies out in the long run and a normalcy equation gets set between the partners, if you manage to stick around till then. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but let’s consider the majority scenario. The leap to Fatherhood is hell lot of a change compared to this and that’s what this blog is all about.
Post marriage, one or max two years down the line couples will start hearing questions about extending their family from the immediate and distant relatives and society. You will experience the curious ones around you hinting or directly asking you about this and sometimes it’ll be annoying to the extend that you’ll feel like telling “Mind your own business”. But do not create enemies at this stage; we’ll need all of them later (especially during parenting for expert tips). This societal peep-in is just a side effect of the closely knit families/society we have around us, amidst the many many positives of such a societal setup.
I am sure that if you have managed to continue in the marital state so far, you can definitely manage the curious ones around you. Other things being normal, the next phase you get into is to prepare yourself mentally and physically to become parents. There are several items in the checklist that normally partners tick-off to ensure preparedness to enter the parenting phase and most of the cases they realize that they never can get fully prepared and takes a leap of faith and jump in there.
Now the journey begins and a detailed blog on this journey with p-kits and sonograph-ies titled ‘Almost Father – Pregnancy Blues of a Man‘ can be read here. For the male partner this journey is a lighter one compared to that of spouse – due to obvious reasons including the changes in her body, mindset, daily routines, new exercises and so on. Amidst all of these transitions, the man will be mostly in a supportive role – sometimes confused at these changes around him and at the mood swings of the partner. So finally you enter ‘Fatherhood’ that you have been looking forward to. Now what?
You have a brand new homo sapien in your home and they need to be nurtured & trained to enter the civilized societal setup that we have designed with our evolution. Irrespective of our opinion about the current society and irrespective of our ‘ideal human being’ concepts, we will end up bringing up our kids in the same way as others or with minimal variations in most cases – because ultimately that’s what we know and you can’t take too much of risk deviating from the norm, else you will be at the receiving end of the flakes from society. Now there are two possibilities, either you have the support from grandparents for bringing up the new life or you are on your own in this phase – the bouncer which I told in the beginning of this article will be severe for the latter case and that’s my personal scenario.
The fatherhood experience which constitute the bouncers start now. You and your spouse, especially if its your first kid, will be ignorant on most aspects of bringing him up and his reactions – except the nuggets of wisdom from elders around you. Innumerable articles have been written about the glorious role of mothers in bringing up the kid, but the subtle but complementary role of fathers may not have that many narrations. Numerous changes will start happening in the father’s life in this phase – your mornings will no longer be news paper reading, social media gazing and whatever little exercise you used to do. It’ll be a brand new exercise with so many trial and error rounds to identify your own ‘right’ way. And in between all of these I see our motivational speaker ‘Mahatria Ra’ telling that Fatherhood is a part time job. So what all contributions does a Father make in bringing up a kid and how does it change him?
Becoming the infant playmate
Parents normally has a bucket list of activities which each partner takes up as their expertise area in the parenting phase. Most of the difficult and time consuming tasks like feeding, ensuring adequate nutritious food, cleaning etc will be mostly taken care (most of the cases it will be least of care and more of fight) by mothers. Not that fathers can’t do it – but the efficiency is somewhere around 50% when the father gets involved in these things. To the infant, fathers become their play mate who doesn’t force them for anything and the guy to have fun time with – true for most of the time. They jump on top of you, starts playing with you most of the time (fathers enjoy these massaging sessions, whereas mothers get easily annoyed when the kid pulls her hair) . And I think these games n interactions play a good role in painting the infant mindset with a spectrum of colors and imaginations.
In my case, five days of the week I’ll not be with the kid during office hours and he is taken care by his mother at home with minimal support from a maid. In such cases, end of day when you get back home – the kid will be waiting to jump on top of you and tell a lot of things in whatever language they only understand – those moments are the most precious and blissful ones. For them its a break from the feeding-fighting sessions with mothers through the day. This in no way discounts the attachment the baby has with mother – once in need, they run to mothers first :).
Wedding to ‘Married’ mindset
If wedding united you legally as a couple with the blessings and support of both the families, the kid will get the parents ‘married’ into a matured family level. You both take up unusual pains to cope up with the new life on earth and to get that new life to the normalcy of our civilization. You start sharing all household chores – be it washing, cleaning, cooking, shopping and anything and everything to do at home. No more you are the privileged male of the family – I guess it will have to wait for some time now.
Based on my experience this ‘true marriage’ happens when the parents are managing the kid on their own. Majority of us look forward to our parents (grand parents) to pitch in during this phase to make life easy. But I feel its manageable if one of you is not working and it definitely help us become better parents with all the pain that you take.
Expecting the unexpected
We start caring and taming the new one as if we are masters, only to realize later that we are just getting to learn. With all the mighty experiences you have had with your parents and teachers and friends and colleagues – you try to teach your kids the right lessons for life. But most times you end up realizing that he doesn’t get it at all, sometimes they laugh at your punishments. Sometimes they’ll cry for the same things that they laughed yesterday. You’ll find several cases where he’ll angrily reject the same food that he happily had yesterday. So its full of expecting the unexpected for you. Often it’s told that many of these instances will be kid’s way of manipulating their parents.
Wearing the ‘Parents’ hat
Probably the most heard dialog from our parents during childhood would have been “You will understand when you become a parent”. This is the most echoing statement once you become a parent.
I am sure we all will start respecting and loving them more than ever once we wearing the ‘parent’ hat.
New Emotional Maturity
There are several new dimensions of life that you’ll now start understanding. Probably this is the best course you are taking on life – the parent in you will keep learning from your kid.
You’ll find better definitions of happiness (from movies, malls etc. to better things such as the kid standing or walking on his own), patience (wait for kid to open his mouth for food), blessings and so on. The wonder of God’s creation and the intricate complexities netted in us will take us to a new level of understanding.
All in all, its very much a fully involved, fully committed role which requires hell lot of energy to strive through. While the common perception that fathers are in a part time role might be true in some cases, a vast majority of cases tells the direct opposite story. I do agree that based on the emotional connect and the proportion of time spent with kids – mothers will definitely overtake fathers, but considering the overall impact in the life of a kid the Father fares equally good and complements the mother. I hope to have a harmonious case to present as my little one grows through his toddler phase.