No gimmicks in the title of this post. I didn’t feel they were necessary.
If you don’t know by now that I’m a dad to a twenty month old boy then you haven’t been reading my blog. So if this is news to you please stop reading this and start again from the beginning. Now! Go!
Good boy/girl. So now you’re all caught up you’re well in the know. If you’ve cheated and are just reading the rest regardless then you’re only cheating yourself!
Fatherhood then. This is something so difficult to sum up. Have you ever not wanted something so badly that the mere thought of it makes you feel ill? That’s exactly how I felt about being a parent.
I’ll explain a little as to why I was so against the idea. When I was twenty-one (a long time ago) I got my girlfriend at the time pregnant. She announced she was keeping it and initially I was petrified. However, I quickly came round to the idea. I actually got excited about it the more I procrastinated. Then one day I got a phone call at work to say my girlfriend had been admitted to Wythenshawe hospital.
She’d miscarried the baby and that was that. The relationship came to an end a couple of months later and I have little doubt that this awful turn of events was the root cause.
As the years passed I grew more and more against the idea of children. I felt I was too selfish to give up the biggest majority of myself for the sake of a son or daughter. I wanted to be a DJ. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to do anything other than sire a miniature me.
So I wanted to do all the aforesaid stuff. All of it was my dream. What I actually did though was get drunk a lot and act promiscuously. In reality I achieved nothing. It was always a case of me convincing myself there was plenty of time for all that after yet another pint.
When my current girlfriend announced she was pregnant with the foetus that would eventually become my protégé, I had the same misgivings as I’d initially had nine years before. I didn’t want to be a dad and I shamefully admit I urged her to terminate. She effectively told me to p**s off or die trying. I was going to be a dad whether I bloody liked it or not.
I quickly got used to the idea. I think we all do after the initial shock. After that I grew to love the idea. Again, I think that’s something we all do.
Nine months passed in the blink of an eye and, a smidge over a month before my thirty-first birthday, Caellum Edwin Bailey made his debut appearance. Everything changed. I’m not just talking in the way a person changes when their child is born. I mean everything changed. Some changes were immediate and others were more gradual. My work circumstances, for example, were an immediate change (the less said about that the better). The change in my attitude towards life and taking my dreams more seriously happened gradually over a number of months.
In many ways, I think I’ve adapted really well to this little person who’s turned my world upside-down, but I also know there are many areas I could perhaps do better. I’ve come to realise that you’re always learning as a parent. There’s no definite to anything. Things change all the time because the child changes constantly. You have to be on your toes at all times.
I have to say that this thing called fatherhood; this thing that for the longest time I really wouldn’t have touched with a bargepole; has been interesting. In a good way too. I don’t think I need to go into great detail about the unconditional love I feel for Caellum. He’s the fruit of my loins; how could I feel anything other than the deepest love for him?
The little things are definitely what makes fatherhood such a great experience. When there’s something he wants and he laughs excitedly when you go to get it for him. How he simply cannot sleep unless he has a dummy and the blanket handed down from his brother Matthew. The gobbledegook he frequently talks as though it’s a perfectly coherent sentence. How he simply has to hold your index finger as he walks along. He knows the difference between fingers; trust me! So many things that make my heart swell so much I feel it could burst whenever they happen.
There’s the fear that he’s growing up all the time too. It’s absolutely devastating that the little helpless thing wrapped in swaddling I brought home that day twenty months ago is now running around, eating grown up food, trying to talk and looking less like a baby every day. You can’t stop time, but when you have a child time is your very worst enemy.
Alright, fatherhood is far from glamorous. The nappies that fail to contain excrement causing poo to go all up his back never become endearing no matter how much it happens. The bodily fluids are easily the worst thing about it all. I could throw up when he tries to slam his slimy dummy into my mouth. He likes doing that!
The less than glamorous things are just so unimportant in the grand scheme of things though. The cuddles you infrequently receive and the bedtime kisses he’s learned to give are enough to make up for any slimy dummy a million times over.
As much as I hate the fact that he’s growing up quickly it’s nonetheless vital for me that he grows up right. My version of right will probably differ from yours; we all have our own values. I want him to have the best possible chances of succeeding in whatever it is he chooses to pursue. I want to encourage him no matter how daft an idea it might seem. Could it really be any dafter than a dream of becoming a DJ or an author? I want him to know that no dream is too small.
His brother Matthew has designs on becoming a footballer and I always used to urge him not to put too much stock in the idea because so few people actually go on to make it. Most all young boys dream of being a footballer at some point. Even I did for a while. I stopped telling him not to put all his eggs in the one basket after a while. It wasn’t right of me to try and pour cold water on his dreams. Now I try to advise him in the best ways of going about achieving it. He doesn’t always listen, but what eight year old does?
I hope he does make it as a footballer. If not then I’ll help him achieve whatever else he decides to do. He may not be my son biologically speaking, but that doesn’t stop me from loving and caring about the boy. I want him to succeed just as much as I want Caellum to.
What I also want is to continue pursuing my dream. I want to succeed as a writer so that Caellum has a father he can look up to and be proud of. I want him to be able to tell his schoolmates that his dad is an author and a reasonably successful one. It isn’t even about the money or the fame for me. I’d be happy to earn just enough to get by; enough so that I wouldn’t have to work menial jobs that mean nothing to me anymore and I could concentrate on my writing full-time.
Becoming a father has made me hungrier than ever to succeed partly because I’ve really realised how finite time is and how quickly it goes. I only have this short window in space and time to do something worthwhile. After years of messing around I’m finally cracking on with it to the best of my abilities. I have Caellum to thank for that.
I also have him to blame if he doesn’t stop trying to press keys on my damned laptop…
How do you rate parenthood? Do you feel the same way as I used to and abhor the very idea of having kids? Has having children inspired you similarly to the way it’s inspired me? I’d love to read your thoughts and comments on the subject. Thanks for reading!