Elsie-May has cast a spell over me. I’ve only known her a very short time, but I talk to her every day and I think about her a lot. She’s never said a word back to me.
My darling wife has noticed changes in me I’m sure of it – she knows about Elsie-May and my growing infatuation with her.
Still, my wife, a strong and independent woman – far from a Stepford wife – stays with me, and loves me more every day. She has even embraced Elsie-May in our lives, and is actually very close to her.
Elsie-May is my newborn baby. Our first child. She arrived on my birthday and she’s by far and away the best birthday present I’ll ever receive, and one I’ll be eternally grateful for.
We already have a lot to be thankful for. For starters, the pregnancy was a breeze compared to some stories you hear. No morning sickness, no major dramas, straight-forward appointments with the obstetrician and the hospital, easy.
Of course, for me, that means not much changed in the lead-up. And there it is – my casual selfishness coming to the fore.
While my wife got bigger, less comfortable, struggled to sleep, and became anxious about what was ahead of her, for me, nothing much changed. I still went to the gym, to work, to golf, to the pub if I wanted, and I still invited people over for dinner at will. Because for me, aside from having to attend a few parenting classes and making some purchases to set up the nursery, it was business as usual.
I didn’t need to monitor what I could and couldn’t eat, I didn’t require daily supplements to give another dependant person the best chance at life, I didn’t suffer from constant indigestion or a lack of sleep.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t an absentee partner. My point is that for us blokes, the real work of parenting doesn’t really start until we’ve got something to get our hands on. In the meantime, we’re merely a support act.
I knew that was all going to be knocked for six, and that my preoccupation with self was due to be almost entirely substituted for a manic passion to put someone else first.
And now that it’s upon me, it’s even better than I had anticipated. As I edged closer to the day that I actually became a dad, I thought more and more about Elsie-May and what she might want or need, ahead of what I do. I was happily sabotaging my own selfishness, bit by bit, as if training myself for the inevitable.
Typing this with my sleeping beauty lying next to me, sniffling, snuffling and stretching, I cannot wait for every next chance I get to hold her, help her, nurture her, and watch her learn and grow. I can’t wait for us all to bond and grow together, learning and developing through adversity and sharing in the spoils of the happy times we are sure to also experience.
I’m curious to see how I handle fatherhood, to see if I’m any good at it, and to take on the many challenges it throws at me, all whilst continuing to try and fulfil my own personal and professional ambitions. I’m really looking forward to the whole gamut, despite the anxiousness and apprehension I have about getting it right.
And there it is – the crucial little revelation that goes to the heart of what could be seen as my self-absorbed approach during the pre-birth period. Can I actually do this and can I do it well? This is not something you want to get only half right – or get completely wrong for that matter either. Pregnancy and parenthood is something the girls excitedly talk about and share stories, learnings and the like about. This is not the traditional domain of men.
So behind the veneer of my relaxed, self-assured and unchanged approach to life at this point in time, is the trepidation of a brand new dad. A fledgling father who, for all his self-confidence, is completely uncertain about his ability to get the job done and to get it done right. Someone who wants to be as good as my dad was to me, and as my wife’s dad was to her. Hopefully by the time she can read this, Elsie-May will understand and be proud of the effort I’ve put in to raising her, and she may even give me some pointers for improvement along the way.
In the meantime, I’ll heed some of the abundance of advice I’ve received from other more seasoned parents, and just soak up every minute of this precious time before she learns how to talk back and tell me everything I’m doing wrong.
Cameron Scott is a former journalist and government press secretary now working at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. He writes a new blog titled ‘New World Audit’ which can be found at http://new-world-audit.blogspot.com.au/
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