Can’t cope with being a father?

Since starting this blog, I’ve been monitoring the keywords people use to find it. Nothing too Big Brother mind, I’m not going to steal your identity, or come round to your house and murder you in your sleep, or, even worse, sell your details to a marketing company. Nothing of the sort. But, I’ve noticed a trend.

You see, it seems there are a lot of people out there, I’m assuming mostly men, new fathers, expectant fathers, older fathers, who just cannot cope with the thought or stress of being a dad. They don’t know how to feed a baby, change a nappy, sing soothing rhymes, or even what they need to care for a baby before it arrives. They are, in effect, scared shitless.

We shall call this phenomenon ‘Scared Shitless Expectant Father Syndrome’. And, I’ll admit, here and now, that I suffered from it. If you have a baby on the way, and don’t know what the hell to do, you are not alone, every other dad has been in the same position as you. And if you meet somebody who says it was all sweetness and light and nothing worried them, ask him to give you the number of the nanny he uses, or ask to meet his wife, but don’t expect to meet her as she is undoubtedly at home looking after the kids as the absentee father shoots the breeze with you.

The thing about Scared Shitless Expectant Father Syndrome is that it can make you panic. You will fret over everything. Like the correct size of teat to use (you are a dad, you should now be able to say ‘teat’ without sniggering), or the ratio of baby feed to water (level off the scoop and don’t lose count of scoops half way through!), or the temperature of bath water. But guess what, as with most things in life, it just gets easier with practice.

There is a scene in one of the ‘Bourne’ trilogy of movies where Jason Bourne admits that it scares him that when he walks into a room he knows the best route to the exits, who is armed, the bra size and IQ levels of all the women in the room. And the registration number of all the cars in the car park outside. It is no word of a lie when I tell you that you will soon reach this zen-like phase of knowledge about babies. Pretty soon, you will, for instance, be able to tell me the best place to change a baby in your town centre. You will be able to give me the times at which your baby eats, sleeps and poops. You will know what your baby likes to eat, and the best way the clean him up after he’s dribbled his food everywhere.

You will become a Jedi Father. You will just know what to do and when, it will become instinctual. Trust your instincts, follow the force, let the force flow through you, become one with the force… Oh. Er. Sorry. Got carried away there.

The really worrying thing is that a proportion of men are so distressed at the thought of being a father, they hot-foot it away from the responsibility. Then, mummy has to do the job of two parents, she has to be mother and father to the baby. Now that is real hard work.

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