When I told a friend I was pregnant, she didn’t congratulate me.
Instead, she warned me.
“A baby changes things,” she said. “You won’t look at your husband in the same way. Most men don’t really get fatherhood at first.”
Watch: Be a good mum. Post continues below.
Well, I’m happy to report she was wrong… because he actually never got it. It was a major surprise to me, as I’d seen him as a loving dad with his kids from a previous marriage.
But I discovered when I had my own child that affection only gets you so far as a parent.
Yes, there’s all the hard stuff like waking up throughout the night and sacrificing time with friends (neither of which, again to my surprise, he ever did). But kids also need to engage and bond with you through laughter and play.
I mean, that’s the best part of being a parent. If you’re not interested in the good stuff… well, you’re missing the entire point.
I know some of you might not agree with me. I know some of you would rather do 30 loads of washing than build Lego or kick a football around with your kids. But you’ll read together at bedtime or make bath time fun or sing songs in the car…
My husband never did any of those things.
Never got on the ground when he was crawling, never sang with him, never even played with him in the bath.
My husband actually could play guitar beautifully and he never once took it out to strum with his son.
Any engagement with our son was done in silence – even if our child was babbling away.
To say I was flummoxed, confused, disappointed and frustrated would be an understatement. I’d only seen him with his kids who were school-aged – so maybe he’d be better then?
But I wanted our son to have a better relationship with his dad now. So, I tried to help, firstly by talking to him about it.
“Why don’t you play some guitar to him? Show him how to build his Duplo? Or use lots of bubbles in the bubble bath?”
His response: “You’re a control freak. I know how to be a parent.”
But what I was witnessing just didn’t make sense to me.
Once, he was trying to feed our son in his high chair. Our kid was never a big eater so when I saw him fussing, I started singing some silly train song and smiling encouragingly at my baby from where I was in the kitchen.