1 year with my son - 6 lessons I have learnt
It has now been an entire year since our son was born, so I thought now would be a great time to share what I have learnt as a first-time father over these past 12 months.
When Jesse was born, and for a good period of time afterwards, I look back and realise that we did not have a strong bond. It did not come naturally for me, perhaps due to my tendency of having stronger relationships with women than with men. My head was filled with every stereotype of what it meant to be called “Dad”.
From the moment we found out that we were having a boy, I pictured the two of us as being inseparable, instinctively knowing exactly what he wants, needs and feels at all times. While our connection wasn't instant, I can honestly say that I absolutly adore him now. He is without a doubt the greatest thing in the world to me, and we are closer than ever.
Getting to this place; however, took a lot of time, patience, and effort. For me, the pivotal turning point was the five to six week mark, when he first smiled at us. There is no feeling quite like it, and if you're a first-time dad feeling similar to how I felt - hang in there, you’ll get there.
Before I became a dad, I can’t tell you how many times I was told "be patient” and “it won't always be so hard” when discussing the impending newborn phase. In all honesty, there is nothing that can truly prepare you for the lack of sleep and uncertainty you will feel as a brand new parent. What I have learnt is that your patience grows and expands as you navigate parenthood.
As your baby learns how to express their needs and communicate, you are also learning how to respond and react. Have patience with your baby, but also with yourself. There is no shame in needing to take 5 minutes away to breathe and regroup.
#3 A newfound capacity for love
Up until now, I have only ever felt love for partners and family members. When our son was born, and I met this little human who is half of me and half of the person I love, it opened up a whole new part of my heart and completely consumed me. I could stare at him for hours. My pride grows stronger with every new development that he makes.
#4 Making time for each other
My wife and I are incredibly fortunate that Jesse sleeps like a champ. We know that every evening when the clock strikes 7, it is our time. We’ll spend time together just watching a movie, or sometimes end up talking for hours.
I’ve found that it is so important to take time to work on your relationship. I believe it's really healthy to talk about the good and the bad, and perhaps somethings other than your baby for a change.
#5 Life doesn't stop when you have a baby
What I mean by this is that while our baby is of course our first priority, I am still my own person. If you are a new parent, keep in mind that you have needs and desires that you must honor in order to find purpose in life.
I have always been a creative person who loves to travel and seek adventure, but having a baby is grounding and is a full-time responsibility. Work together with your partner to find a healthy work, parenting and leisure balance.
#6 Value your partner
Maybe the most important lesson I have learnt over the past 12 months is to notice and appreciate your partner. I think it's a common misconception that stay-at-home mums have it easy. Here is the reality of it:
Looks Like: Stay at home mums have it easy as they don't have to go out and work.
Reality: Looking after a baby all day is physically and mentally draining. Days can start at 5am or earlier, and go long into the night. You are never “off duty”.
Looks Like: Spends most their time having coffee dates & lunches with friends.
Reality: Heading out to see a friend includes close to an hour of packing up and planning, dressing two humans, maneuvering car seats, caring for baby, and often letting your coffee go cold. It's not as simple as just walking out the door.
Looks Like: Get a break every time the baby is napping.
Reality: When the baby is napping there is meal prepping, washing, cooking and cleaning to be done. Not to mention anything she may want to do for herself.
Looks Like: Get a full day off if grandparents or friends babysit.
Reality: Spending time completing jobs that can't be done with a baby around
Looks Like: Not contributing to the household financially.
Reality: Contributing to your child's physical, mental, and emotional well-being, while providing them with essential life skills and teaching them how to behave and interact with others. These lessons are vital and in my opinion, priceless.
And the list goes on…
To any single parents that may be reading this, I respect and admire your strength and drive to provide for your child. I cannot imagine doing this on my own.
And with that - happy birthday to our son Jesse, and happy one year anniversary of parenting to us. Looking forward to sharing everything I learn this upcoming year.
Time really does fly...