A blokes perspective: am I ready to be a dad?
I don’t open up easily, which I guess is because I did that too much in my youth and it always seemed to backfire (youth? Jeez I’m only 26) . So, as I enter this new world of blogging I also step into new territory for adult me: kicking off by revealing my innermost thoughts and fears about being a Dad. This is my journey to joining the masses of young(ish) males approaching fatherhood.
More about me… Josh
For most of my life, I've found apathy and nihilism have been a crutch to hide crippling fears of failure. After all, it’s far easier to hide anxiety when you appear not to give a shit about everyone and everything. It’s a difficult thing to diagnose in yourself and the likely prognosis of this is a lack of life direction, social anxiety and some other undesirable habits that I have managed to overcome over the years.
As a kid I was diagnosed with mild autism and with my anxieties in the mix I was either extremely hyperactive or feeling like I’d been run over by a truck. Ever ran until you’re exhausted? That was the two extremes of energy levels I would have, but chosen almost on the flip of a coin at random times.
How many of these issues impact me today? Well, to quote Meatloaf, an artist which my own father bought me up on, “two out of three ain’t bad.” These days I definitely still struggle with social anxiety - a crowded place is my idea of hell and I would rather take a punch from every single person in a crowd then stand amongst them. I also have dyspraxia, which is basically like dyslexia but in speech. I’m a man of few words - verbally at least - and I spend more time trying to form a coherent sentence then actually speaking. All reasons why writing is a great outlet and form of therapy for me.
While I have now managed to fade out most of my bad habits, regulate my moods without medication and hold down a solid job, my general lack of life direction and inability to 'play nicely with others' means that becoming a parent on paper, sounds like a complete fudging train-wreck. So, when it came to deciding to have a baby, the journey was not so simple. Jen’s biological clock was ticking, so I also didn’t have the luxury of time to procrastinate on the decision. To get there, I focused on three key factors that meant becoming a dad would be a good move for me and my family.
1. Being a doggie Daddy changed my perspective…
While my relationship with Jen is an important factor, it was my relationship with our dogs Roxie and Millie that first helped me consider myself as a ‘father’ figure. When I was young, I was at best, unable to take care of myself and at worst, self-destructive. While dogs may not be quite the same as children to some, I still had these two living beings that relied on me for food, walks, affection and needed me to take care of myself too. Raising Millie from an eight week old puppy is currently the closest I’ve been to being a parent of a newborn, while Roxie’s - extensive and uninsured - medical issues have meant me and Jen have had to sacrifice a lot to keep our little girl alive and happy.
Essentially, I learnt that I am able to be emotionally involved in taking care of another life, subsequently by giving a shit about my own. And when it comes down to it, all the time, money and prep won’t matter if you are not ready to put another life first and care about who you’re a daddy to.
2. Jen was always going to be my baby’s mother
I cannot pretend to be an expert on relationships but seemingly, the true art of a happy couple is complementary differences and just enough similarities to keep you on the same wavelength.
And a metric shit-tonne of patience.
After realising that I could accept Jen’s faults, and crucially she could accept my entire personality, it made sense that Jen would be the person I have a child with. While we were never going to be perfectly functional adults (I still haven’t met one yet), we have enough of the fundamentals that mean in theory, kiddo won’t grow up to be a complete sociopath (just on their father’s side). Plus...you know...love and all that bollocks.
3. I was never ever going to feel ready for this…
I remember talking to my mum about me and Jen having a child. While I always knew somewhere in my mess of incoherent thoughts that I wanted at least one child, I also knew they were time consuming, sleep depriving and more expensive than my current, shall we say, millennial salary would allow. When I said this to my mum, she said something that changed my perspective almost instantaneously:
“You nearly didn’t have a sister because of how tight money was.”
It made me realise a few things that day. First, very few people are completely prepared for parenthood. Whether it be money, mindset or knowledge. Second, I should probably call my sister more often. Mainly though, it gave me an insight into a person’s mind who had successfully bought two children up into adulthood (even if at least one of them kicked and screamed their way into it.) Parenting is this universal thing with no guidebook. You just do what you can with what you’ve got and if it’s not enough, do what you can to make it better.
So this is it!
We made the decision in October 2016 to start trying for a baby. Fast forward a year and Jen is currently 10 weeks pregnant. I probably won’t be one of the best parents to grace this planet. I struggle to be a fairly mediocre person when it comes to a lot of things. But I guess caring for the kid and trying to get it right is what will make the difference between being an alright dad or being some half-assed guy who appears in and out a child’s life without them really understanding who I actually am. Because even I’m not that much of a dick.
So that’s me. Slightly less apathetic, slightly more anxious and frankly, a bit of a tosser. This is where I’m coming from on my road to becoming a dad. Expect tears tantrums and a tirade of debates between me and Jen. We are Mum v Dad.
And we are very much looking forward to meeting you kiddo.
We will be sharing our experience trying for a baby very soon. In the meantime, you can also read mums perspective on deciding to have a baby.