So it's five weeks since young Will was born. It was rollercoaster at the beginning, but things are sort of settling down. So it's probably the right time for a self indulgent post about what it feels like to be a new Dad. Some people seemed interested anyway.
I'm not going to start talking about him, I'm going to start talking about me, it will make sense in a bit I hope. ....
I'm not the kind of person who gets affected by things, massive changes, shocks, all that...I don't know why but I just seem to take in my stride. There's never much hoo-hah, I just seem to get used to things really quickly. This is a useful way to be when things go wrong, but can be pretty annoying when things go really right, I just don't get massively giddy.
That said, I think I'm a man of passions, when I love something, I really love something. Tea means more than life itself, cooking, swimming, Saturdays on the bike, Mrs Northern. I reckon if I love you you're pretty lucky because I love you completely and utterly. A passionate man who doesn't get very up or down...how odd. Like most human beings, I guess you could say I'm an amorphous mass of contradictions.
The first point I'd like to make in relation to this is that I have no real connection with the belief that you're never ready to have your first child. I feel like I've taken it in my stride. And you need to - there's a lot of change, lots to get used to.
There's the change to the fabric of every single day. Sleep is no longer taken for granted, you learn to do itt in chunks rather than one long stretch. Luxuries like the gymn, exercise, watching a DVD, reading a book or spending hours cooking become rarer, more precious and, consequently, more appreciated.
Your relationship with the mother changes in ways you didn't expect. Quality time together becomes rarer, but that means the simplest conversations, about how your day went and stuff become that more precious and I think that brings you closer together in all sorts of ways. It also means you have to work hard to stay as a unit that can operate alongside the bigger 'three of you family unit' but that just heightens how it feels to be with someone.
Then there's the change to how you feel about yourself. Just like that, your sense of who you are just changes. When I look into his little face and see my own own eyes looking back I feel a sense of unconditional love I've never had before.
At once you understand how your father feels/felt about you, you understand him more, and you regret not feeling as grateful or hurting him at the points you inevitably have. Makes you want to pick up the phone and just say, "Hi Dad, how's it going?".
It's a humbling feeling when that wrench of emotion comes for the first time. You know that in a way you never felt before, it will never be just you anymore, even more so than when you got married. And it's painful to not see the little boy when you have to go to work in a way that even the most ardent beginning of a love affair doesn't match. But unlike amorous love, I get the sense that this intensity won't fade into something deeper and more meaningful, it will stay white hot but get enriched with memories.
I know that he'll hurt me, I know he'll drive me mad as a teenager, and probably before that. But none of that will matter. I'll still feel the same way. That makes me feel very vulnerable, knowing he has the capacity to break my heart in the way no one else could.
Yes, that's a lot of change to how you feel about yourself, suddenly you feel at once grown up and younger than ever before. Grown up for obvious reasons, young because you haven't a clue what you are doing.
So that's a lot to get your head around. For me, this has been natural. It's all very intense, changing you and your life in way nothing else has, but I already find myself taking in my stride and getting on with it (despite being the cliche proud Dad bringing the pictures into work).
But holding him, only a portion of thoughts are about the present. Much more is about the future. About all the fun we're going to have....the diving off rocks, swimming in the sea, playing tennis, washing cars together, cooking together.
Then there's all the things I want to teach him and talk to him about. He's lovely right now, I look forward to seeing him grown up and discover what kind of a man he will be.
Then I realise, I want so many things for him, but I really want all those things for me. And that's not good. I want him to be himself, to do the things he wants, find out what he like, do what he's good at and be happy with that. I want him to be do things for him, not for me. I'll have to be careful their.
Finally, there's a saying (think it's Oscar Wilde), at first children love their parents, then judge them - sometime they forgive them. I know at some point he'll think I'm an old duffer without a clue. It's axiomatic. But it makes me realise - I've grown up wanting my parents to be proud of me, now my wife. But I want HIM to be proud too. Not to 'look up to me' or any of that rubbish. Just to look at me one day and think, I'm glad I'm your son Dad, I love you'. Above all, I'll always talk to him, listen to him and share - I never want us not to talk and not to be able to say what I really mean.
These are the things I'm thinking about five weeks into being a new Dad.
(and I can't be bothered to spell check etc all that, take it as you've found it)