(Gonna talk a lot ’bout my experiences as a new dad in this rant. Just a heads up.)
I see people online who are quite vocal at hating new parents. Why do these new baby-makers suddenly seem like their whole life revolves around the new addition? Well, because they pretty much HAVE to. The little buggers require lots and lots of attention. There’s a reason most jobs offer paid leave with new parents.
As social humans, we talk about what’s going on in our lives and what media we consume. A fresh set of parents only have one thing going on in their lives, and they’re certainly not consuming any new media. As a result, the only thing we can talk about is this kid we’re trying to keep alive. Hell, we’re giving up weeks of sleep trying to do it.
When the kid first starts out, from the dad side of things, there isn’t a lot of engagement. The kid is just sorta there and he needs stuff from you. Your payment is the child’s continued prosperity and a helping of screaming. In the case of our son, Aidan, he becomes upset if he’s alone. My wife is more than happy to be with him all day to fill that need, but I for some reason didn’t feel that way. I felt like there’s this thing that hates me and no matter what I do for it, I’m apparently causing it great discomfort.
You will put up with amazing amounts of frustration and pain for someone you truly care for without flinching. That’s what I saw in my wife. But imagine that same aggravation without being dulled by the love. That’s where I was. I see my wife wading against the current of pain with stone faced determination, not a doubt in her eyes, meanwhile I’m behind her, trying to keep up but wanting to give up and wanting her to not be hurting.
When you cope with hardship and don’t know why you’re doing it resentment can find hold. Imagine my horror when I realized that’s what I was feeling. I thought I was supposed to suddenly be filled with DADDLYNESS immediately upon holding my son for the first time. Wrapped in the knowledge and love that a dad is supposed to have for his child. I wasn’t. I was holding this squirming human, bone tired, panicking.
This wasn’t right. What’s wrong with me? Am I a monster? Fear and disgust for myself set in.
I have never felt so alone in my life.
After all, there I was, watching my wife give everything she had for him and happy to do it. How could she understand? There was no question for her, so why was there for me? Clearly I’m just an awful person and she’s going to catch on to that any day now.
But I continued. I did what I could to help and fight the resentment that was fortifying itself. If I couldn’t find the love I needed to do these things from him, I realized I could pull it from somewhere else. I re-aimed my sights toward my wife.
I would do it for her. After all, I have no doubts about how much I love her.
It got easier from there. If there was a way I could make things easier for her then I could do it. I still feel awful about my feelings toward my son, even now, but at least I am helping now.
Aidan has made it a lot easier to love him. He’s still pushing my wife and I to the threshold of exhaustion, sure, but two days ago he started making little noises. On purpose. He actually seems happy to see me now.
Holy crap, has he been in there this whole time? Happy to be held by me but completely unable to share it?
Hello, Aidan. It’s nice to finally meet you. I hope you can forgive me for being such an ass.