This day last year I got my baby home for the first time. It was the beginning of my life as a dad, a challenge I have tried to rise to every day since. It isn’t always easy to be my exuberant self in the face of an even more exuberant baby who wakes up at 3am, but then again it isn’t always easy to be my exuberant self in the face of unexuberant adults during normal daylight hours.
13th September, 2020 was a rush. Woken up at 3am or thereabouts, hearing My Exquisite Wife was being induced. The thing they don’t tell you about induction before you’re scheduled for it is that you aren’t really scheduled for it. Instead you can be in the hospital for days before they begin the process as they’ve got to wait till they’ve got a free bed in the labour ward, with spare capacity for all the inconsiderate people who spontaneously just start giving birth. Bastards. Oh well, it avoided us having a September 11th baby at least. Anyway, from the date of induction till now, nothing has been the same. They kept the pair of them in hospital for a couple of days to make sure everything was all hunky dory and then they came home, caked in blood and vomit.
And that was just My Exquisite Wife.
I’m a big fan of babies as might’ve been expected from my many posts about kids throughout my 5 years at this whole blogging lark. Becoming a dad was something I knew I wanted to do quite early on. I watched the men on TV, the sitcom dads and cartoon dads and figured they were fairly rubbish, but then looked towards my dad who’s good at it, and I knew I wanted to join the illustrious line of competent fathers. This past year I’ve been blessed by B, who is close enough to the perfect baby for a new parent.
This past year B’s developed at roughly the exact right moment for everything and sometimes a little earlier than anticipated. This is most apparent in her walking, which she’s been at for a couple of months now, and in her being able to climb stairs. She sleeps fairly well (fingers crossed for tonight) and only refuses to eat some foods which, in all fairness, My Exquisite Wife would also refuse to eat. I understand why so many parents gush about their kids for mine is perfect. Except when she isn’t.
Truth is, it is work to raise a kid. It’s caring for a whole other heartbeat. It’s grabbing everything out of her hands which she can find, since it’s always dangerous items which are the most grabbable. It’s making sure that what she’s putting in her mouth is good, nutritious food, which will enable healthy growth and engender good habits. It’s thinking about different ways to entertain her, which fortunately at the minute is mostly making poop noises and pretending to eat her, without resorting to just giving her a phone loaded with some sort of stupid app which is probably harvesting data to make a frighteningly realistic picture of her every want and desire as she grows up into a consumer, in a vaguely dystopian vision which is not quite Black Mirror or 1984 or Brave New World, but instead is something new, dark and terrifying. That funny feeling.
I’ve had new appreciation of this fact as I’ve been looking after her every day recently. Generally I’m lucky enough that I only do about 50% of the day to day while My Exquisite Wife does that plus some of the extra necessities like clothes buying. At the minute, doing 100% of the day to day is exhausting. It boggles my mind that some people are capable of looking after kids all alone all the time. It’s surprising too that some people are able to continue writing constantly while looking after children. For me it’s going to have to be a rarer thing to get back into the habit as I’ll need to write around our work schedules, as well as childcare responsibilities, and dogcare responsibilities.
It’s not easy, but very little in life which is worth it is easy. Sculpting a little mind and building a little body which will be fit to deal with the stresses and difficulties of life involves about as much effort as it’s supposed to. On measure, I’d say I’m more than happy to put up with it. Here’s a bit of hope that the next year will have a couple fewer nightime wakeups.
The writer of this piece is too tired to come up with something clever to write here.