But, that's probably inaccurate. At that point, I didn’t feel like a dad at all. It was such an unreservedly joyful yet uniquely shocking experience that I was too numbed with a combination of fear and excitement to know how I felt.
I certainly hadn't formulated a view in my mind that felt like I was in proper dad territory, even though technically I was firmly in it by then.
So, if it wasn’t then, maybe it's the time when I realised that life had irretrievably changed and that normal activities you would usually undertake had turned into chores of mammoth complexity, for example:
• The dilemma of going to the toilet – do you take him with you, is that loving or just weird? How long is an unreasonable time to sit and "meditate" now in the daily toilet routine, leaving the sucker to stare at the ceiling? If he cries, do you stop mid-flow? Will I ever be able to go to the toilet again with a closed door?
• Tidying a room – is there even any point any more? Why put toys away if in about three minutes they are out again?
• Doing anything beyond 10pm EVER again – why subject yourself to that torture of even less sleep than you might otherwise get? Especially, during the first few months when you would trade your own kidneys to get a few hours more sleep a night. It's semi-amusing that sleep becomes a virtual currency you constantly trade with your partner, but through which neither of you become rich – it's delightful.
Maybe it's the time when I suddenly became hyper-sensitive to not doing anything without thinking it might end in my death or his death. Taking a flight was now filled with thoughts of engine fires or terrorist attacks and the ghastly certainty of plummeting to earth from 40,000ft.
Having a three second silence on the baby monitor clearly meant he had stopped breathing. Watching him scale the climbing frame at the park for the first time was a moment of pride but also framed with a paranoia that he might fall on his head at any given time. I've never really thought about it until now, which is probably not unusual.
How often do you get the time to ponder these things? Maybe during night feeds if your brain hasn't stopped functioning. But, now three years on from our first baby and having had two more since, it's a bit clearer. The first time I felt like a dad was when I felt that I wouldn’t want it any other way. When that happened was... well...when I first made eye contact with the poor little urchin...
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