Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Challenges of Fatherhood (A guest post by Alex Walsh)

Today's contributor is Alex Walsh, the publisher of the blog Daddacool (which is listed #8 in Cision's Top 10 UK Daddy Blogs). Today he touches on some of the challenges of fatherhood.


So this Daddy lark then. Has it changed me? Well I’m now capable of wiping someone elses bottom, which is something I never thought I’d be able to do. I barely enjoy wiping my own to be honest. The same goes for sick, I never thought I’d have a poorly toddler clasped to me when they chose to vomit down my back. To this day I remember the walk to the bathroom with chunks of sick worrying their way between my buttocks. And of course, there is the claim to fame I have in my twitter profile that elicits a lot of amusing chortles: Super powers include walking over Lego barefoot AND feeling NO pain!

Of course the experiences are only a small part of it really, and even the rather unsavoury ones have their upside- having a poorly child cling to you because they find you reassuring is special, even if the acidic smell of sick is burning your nostrils.

There are always challenges to being a Dad, and they’re not always the ones you’d expect. I always found little wriggly babies both incredibly delicate and incredibly strong at the same time. I clearly remember getting more frustrated than a newborn in my attempts to get a sleep suit on a baby. I also remember vividly the wrench at leaving my wife alone and confused after my two weeks paternity leave had finished. I even wrote about it for a national newspaper here in England.

And the lack of sleep, oh my goodness the lack of sleep. The boy didn’t sleep through the night until he was one but his little sister Fifi, still doesn’t sleep properly and she’ll be three in January. She was still waking up twice in the night until she was two, and after that she insisted on getting up at around 5am. Enough to make you weep tears of exhaustion.

I like to think that Claire and I are a team though. She might have been the one to carry the kids and give birth to them but I was the one who accidentally ensured that some heavy metal was playing during at least one of the deliveries. I try to do my fair share of the good stuff and the unpleasant stuff, be it bedtime routine and stories (which I always try to be home from work for) to taking them for their immunizations. The biggest challenge I have is not lowering myself to their level when it comes to playing games. I find it really easy to empathise with the children, particularly the boy.

I think though, the thing for me that sums up being a Dad perfectly is one of those days I come home to be met at the front door by the boy. He has a worried look on his face, mingled with a slight trace of worry. He gives me something precious to him that’s been broken and has complete faith in me to make everything all right. It’s a fairly well placed faith as far as he’s concerned. When we were lucky enough to go on holiday to Lake Garda, Italy, we spent hours walking around a fortified walled city. When we got back to the hire car, he said, “Where’s bunny?” We had 20 minutes on the parking meter left and he had lost his most precious cuddly toy in a walled city. I ran off at speed and came back 17 minutes later with his bunny. He was unconcerned, because I was his Daddy and he had complete trust in me to make things okay. And that is what it means to me to be a Daddy.



Erin Wallace said...

Alex, your last couple of sentences are wonderful and sum up the whole thing. He had complete trust that you would find his bunny because after all, that's what it means to be a daddy. Wonderful.

Alex said...

Cheers Erin, it's those moments that make it possible to take the other moments in my stride :)

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