It’s a wonderful, messy, difficult, joyous time. But when you bring home a new baby, it can cause waves you didn’t see coming. Here’s what mums need to tell dads about the first months of parenthood.
When a couple become ‘mum and dad’, life as they know it changes forever. Parenthood begins, along with many lessons, joys, frustrations, feelings and emotions. Some of these more difficult feelings and emotions can be hard for a new mother to vocalise – usually because she feels silly, thinking its something she should just cope with (especially when no-one else talks about it) or because all she really knows is that she doesn’t feel good about something. She can’t quite put her finger on why she feels that way – especially when she never imagined motherhood would bring up such complicated and conflicting emotions.
Here are 5 important things dads need to know as written for bellybelly.com.au:
1. We're faking it. Our new mother self-esteem can be a fragile thing, our confidence just a veneer. This is partly because we have been bombarded with perfect (and so now we’re realising unrealistic) images of motherhood on the screen and in the pages of magazines. This makes our expectations of ourselves, and maybe your expectations of us, impossible to live up to. For most of us, it's a case of ‘fake it till you make it’. But then there is no yardstick for ‘successful parenting’, no measure of performance like salary raises or work bonuses.
Nobody gives a bottle of champagne for superior nappy changing. Where we may have looked to bosses, co-workers or friends to feel good about ourselves before the baby came, now, it’s pretty much only you. We want your acknowledgement, appreciation and encouragement. You also might have to let us know that you want the same from us.
2. We don't mean to be a witch. Some of us bought into the myth that motherhood would be instinctive, and some things may be, but other things are also a steep learning curve – and that can cause us performance anxiety. Some things we thought would come naturally are taking longer than expected.
And sometimes the responsibilities of looking after our little person can be stressful. That’s why we’re snappy some times. Please be patient with us and ask us to be patient with you, join in our learning and share the responsibility so it’s not just on our shoulders.Ask us how we’re going and prompt us to ask you – the baby absorbs our energy like a sponge and we forget sometimes. Please be curious, wonder what it’s like for us, just listen if you don’t know what to say. This is not a problem to be solved; it’s a journey for us to share. Let’s take the pressure off, experiment, make mistakes, forgive each other and laugh over it together.
3. We don't want to have sex. But we will. Really. We’ve been covered in sticky body fluids all day, we’re ‘touched out’ from an overdose of skin contact and being clutched, pulled and scratched (those little fingernails can hurt!) and after a long day of feeling like we’re giving out, giving out, giving out, sex can feel like more giving out and an unreasonable demand on an exhausted body. What we really, really, need is some “getting” to get some sense of balance back.