When I set out to write this article, it was hard to pin down exactly what is the point I want to carry across. Talking about fatherhood to the dads out there is like preaching to the converted. We’ll be like the war veterans trading battle stories and fond memories of the scars and knocks accumulated along the way. During new gatherings, I often veer closely to becoming terminally uncool once I start spurting my encyclopedic knowledge of diapers, playgroups, classes, health remedies only to see an animated glee in another dad’s eyes and a start of a surprisingly serious and mannish discussion about our differing opinions. Which by the way is utterly pointless since all decisions are made by the mothers.
Start telling daddy stories to the singles or the I-am-too-cool-to-have-kids married dudes and I can literally see their pupas dilate while they zone out and mentally wander off to their magical la la land where Victoria Secret angels frolic in their undergarments among the latest tech gizmos, cooing at their sports cars and gears for their ultra-manly hobbies like extreme dirt biking, deep-sea orca hunting and hot yoga.
That narrows the target audience down to those newlywed guys that are sitting on the edge and teetering back and forth on having kids, working out their pros and cons lists to find them at a deadlock. This hopefully serves as an totally biased, semi-fictional and part –autobiographical opinion on the daddy myths out there.
Some of this will also apply to the group of single guys who stupidly think the withdrawal method can prevent contraception and have received the scariest phone call from their betrothed, muse, girlfriend, the-girl-I-don’t-recall, marking the end to their short stud lives.
Myth #1: Fatherhood changes everything
What a ridiculous statement really. Replace the word “Fatherhood” with “Zombie Apocalypse” and that will make more sense. Literally there are millions of new dads appearing every day around the world since the beginning of time. Whether you participate or not is completely a non-factor in the grander sense of things to come.
You will still be you, whether be it the stingy frugal single man morphed into the stingy frugal dad who thinks twice and thrice to buy a toothbrush for himself or his kids, or the carpe diem fella that changes from blowing their recent bonus on the latest 70” TV to blowing their retirement savings for their kid’s 5th birthday party extravaganza complete with real elephants. This goes for all kinds of changes in your life actually. If you can manage to stay true to yourself consistently along the way, you will be able to stay strong as the story lead in your adventure book of life with fatherhood as a mere chapter.
Of course there are bound to be changes to your lifestyle. You will be shocked at how much constant attention and behind-the-scenes preparation will be required for a small human being. Your night drinking sessions might be transformed into night feeds. Your groovy two-seater sports car might have to give way to the practical MPV to lug the baby equipment around. Get over it already and just soak in the change. Take pride at mastering the 10-sec diaper change or the 6-hourly milk bottle prep.
The one thing it definitely changes though, is perspective. You will become acutely aware that there is another human being new to this world that has you as the center of its universe ( or more correctly so, as the hovering moon around the real center of the children’s universe otherwise known as mums.) And that your love and affection will be returned multiple-fold by them, with no preconditions and ill intent. You are given the opportunity to start all over and create a newer and fresher impression on someone who will soak it all in and internalize the influence. In this time and age where everyone judges everyone instantly with their skewed biases, I find that completely refreshing and totally uplifting. Now I am not saying that every guy becomes a Superdad once their kid comes out, but I notice that the ones that do become Superdads, are the ones that treasure the new perspective the most and make the best of it.
Myth #2: It is crazy expensive to have kids
Every now and then, you will find a scaremonger article appearing in the internet that quotes an average of a quarter million to raise a kid to adulthood. Pieces like this are actively disseminated by insurance brokers ( #whyyouneedendowmentplan) and condom makers ( #studs4life) to boost their sales, whilst inadvertently causing premature aging and balding for fathers and mass hysteria amongst the mothers. But when you drill down into the iffy details, you realize that a big portion of costs are attributed to education costs. Now this is a major bummer since tuition fees have been on a rise in recent years at a much higher and consistent rate than your paycheck, it will be like trying to climb a greasy ladder in high heels with an ever growing mob of crazed parents shoving you off your rung. And we are not even talking about university but nursery here. Truth be told, they do add up, even just with the basic options, so it is best to either make sure your bank account can take a regular bashing or go hippie style and raise the kids yourself with home schooling. Hopefully you can endure a few trying years where your bank account balances become as erratic as the heartbeat of a 70 year old getting a lap dance, but with none of the associated pleasures.
But that’s the ugly truth of the world in general, everything is costing more and you should be paid less. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle get squeezed. It is really up to you to decide how you want to live your family life and make it work. Stop looking and comparing against peers and just assess what each considered spending means to you. Everyone has different values to how they want to lead their lives, so just do what you feel it right. There is no cast-in-stone checklist of what you need to provide your child other than basic food, lodging and love. You can only hope to give what you can and hope your kid turns out to be the next big thing ( hopefully Zuckerberg and not Cyrus style…)
Myth #3: You will have no time for yourself.
“Suck it up, recruit! You think this is your grandmother’s army? Just get in line and follow your orders. And why you are still here giving me the blur look? Move, move, MOVE!”
Referring back to an earlier article ( “Maternity Leave”), this will be inadvertently be true, and decidedly un-manly to even contemplate. However, if you take a step back, you will realize that you might have lost your “me” mentality but you also gained a new “we” insight into doing stuff. A true man cannot just live his life for himself. When you start to build your family foundation, your self-gratifying statue of yourself will be torn down to lay the brickwork for the monument to withstand the ages: your legacy. Of course along the way, if you can slip in some goodies for yourself to keep the motivation going, it always helps, like getting a PS4 to train your child’s psychomotor skills, or buying a LEGO Castle Set to teach him about dragons and knights. As I have always said, men are just kids with disposable income. Now you can quit the pretense and just be the cool game playing dad with your kids that you wished your dad was. And when all else fails and you need a breather for yourself, there is always contemplation time at the toilet bowl. ( gentle reminder to self to check Amazon for cushioned seats…)