Friday, 21 August 2009

New dads are all the same aren't they?

It's always refreshing when you meet someone who thinks the same way as you. Regardless of what it is, the fact that they share your take on a given subject helps to remove any doubt as well as vindicating your original stance.

A few weeks back I was one of many recipients of an email sent by a former colleague. The subject was 'wah, wah'. The last time I met up with my old work friend was for a pint a few weeks after he'd broken his leg on a corporate paint balling day. I felt bad as he came along even though he'd already started his new job. He broke his leg 5 minutes into the first game and then spent 8 weeks at home whilst being paid by the new company. I felt sorry for them but also slightly glad it wasn't us footing the bill, even though it was kind of our fault. Anyway I digress. When we met up, he told me how much he wanted to start a family with his girlfriend of 10 years or so. Apparently she was having none of it. Happy with him but didn't fancy the whole wedding and baby thing.

I clicked the email right away predicting the news about a pregnancy and was thinking what to write back, along the lines of 'well done for persuading the missus, mate', only to discover a picture of his brand new baby girl! Blimey, I thought (blimey!), that was quick. But in reality it was probably 10 or 11 months since we'd met or even spoken so technically this was all very possible. It made me feel a bit guilty that I hadn't had the slightest contact with a guy who lives 4 roads away. I have been reasonably busy to be fair.

Cut to this morning, 5 weeks later and I bump into a guy I recognised but looking about as tired as man can get and significantly older.

"How you doing? How's baby?" I say.

"This parent thing. It's seriously overrated" he says.

Found it very funny that, after hearing so many other new dads cooing and resolutely refusing to see any sort of downside to new fatherhood, that there was someone willing to be honest about it all. It didn't seem to be an overreaction either, he genuinely looked like a beaten man. He went on, I have to say, to coo and say how wonderful it was, but for the most part he seemed to be held together by coffee and adrenalin.

Cleft and operations aside, our experience has been virtually the same as everyone else's. Just the little nuances which serve to make us all different separate us from them and them from us. Jake wasn't a good sleeper (I think I mentioned it once or twice) but other than that his first few months were straight from the text book. I found it difficult and wonderful in different measures depending on when you asked me. The overriding emotion was always positive but it's still hard work counting your chickens at 2, 3, 5 and 6 in the morning when you've got a pitch to present.

Anyway the point is, that I mentioned to him that Jake had started sleeping properly (and by properly I mean until 6am) from 8 or 9 months and he looked genuinely crest fallen. I remember being told the same thing by friends when the situation was reversed and 8 or 9 months seemed a long, long way away.

Already the memory of preparing 3 bottles every night, arguing about whose turn it was, the relentless lack of sleep, is starting to fade and I guess that's one of the reasons most people have 2 kids and stop there. Doing anything that hard for just one last time never seems too bad so as you'd not do it. Having just the one, I think, would always leave you thinking that you ought to have one more but I don't think that you'd feel the pressure to add a third, having had two. Those that have a big enough house, plenty of money or a few masochistic tendencies may want to crack on and have 3, 4 and 5 and good luck to them. I'd like to think that we'd pause after two and then go for the third but it'll definitely depend on how number two sleeps in the early days.

Reading this back make it look like Clare's pregnant or that we're 'trying' but I can assure you that isn't the case. The next major box which needs ticking is one regarding accommodation and logistics. Once that's dealt with we'll see. For now I'm just happy to be enjoying time with my boy, seeing him develop at a million miles an hour and getting enough kipat long, long last!

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