Saturday October 1st 2022

Dads Anonymous

What’s a chap to do when he finds out he’s pregnant, and all the ruddy guides are written for women, by women? He turns to those in the know, the men on the front lines. Dads Anonymous is a series of insight by dads into what this whole thing is all about, really, in ways that men can understand. I’ll kick things off: Hi, my name is James, and I’m a dad.
There’s something terribly reassuring, in a sort of crass-old-school-macho-man kind of way, in hearing you’ve impregnated someone. All those caveman instincts come rushing to the fore. Yes! My knob works just fine. Yes! I have ensured my genes will continue into the next generation. Yes! I get to name my sprog after my favourite football god.

And then you realise what that little blue stripe really means. It means that in about eight months a tiny human creature, half you and half your woman, will emerge into the world, and you will then jointly be completely and utterly responsible for its wellbeing. And, if my parents are to be believed, this situation shall last FOREVER.

Now I’m all for babies. They’re cute, and hell of amusing at times, and reassuringly happy all of the time. This impression of mine would be down to all my prior interactions being with other people’s babies, and only when they’ve been completely prepped for social interactions. And my tuning out halfway through the anecdotes of my friends, laughing heartily at the fact that their midget weed in their eye when they were changing a nappy, and forgetting to pay attention to how this ruined their entire day in every possible way. Since my own countdown to fatherhood began, however, I have learned to listen all the way to the end of these anecdotes, and now I see them for what they truly are: the pleas of the exhausted, devastated, and emotionally bankrupt for any kind of adult interaction whatsoever. Sympathy, disgust, boredom, amusement, they don’t care, they’ll take whatever is on offer.

The womenfolk in my family have started dropping alarming comments into the conversation. “You’ll be put out when baby gets first dibs on her tits,” my sister said, rather too gleefully, on catching me gazing appreciatively at my lady the other day. I was still gazing at her in slack jawed horror when my mother chimed in with “He won’t be going near her anyway for the first six weeks, with the stitches and all. He’ll be grateful that at least the tits keep the baby quiet.”

That’s when it hit me: my woman being pregnant means we’re going to have a baby. An actual real life baby. You know: a baby. I’m going to be the father of a real baby. I’m going to be a dad.

That means footie down the park, camping holidays, going to the principal’s office NOT because I’m in trouble, birthday parties with a house full of screaming shortstuffs…and poo filled nappies, sleepless nights, PTAs…

So right now, being a dad means going to the gynae and oohing and aahing over the video, even if I don’t know the baby’s arse from its elbow. My eyes filling with tears at that da doom da doom da doom. It means spending an entire day shopping for the right maternity pillow, conducting interviews akin to police grilling their Most Wanted to find the right paediatrician. Mostly, it means chatting to a bump every night. Watching it jump about when I sing silly songs. Telling the mother of my child how absolutely gorgeous she is. And peeing myself at the thought of what’s to come.

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