I thought fatherhood would be smooth and hitch-free, just transcending from being just a husband to being a father. That illusion was shattered when my wife got pregnant. There were many sleepless nights spent making her comfortable or giving her massages.
The night the child arrived, I insisted I wanted to stay with my wife through it all. I fainted in the labour room! They had to leave my wife to make sure I was okay. Fatherhood has been showing me its true responsibilities and I’m beginning to be more empathic to the struggles our parents went through while parenting us.
For example, My son has the energy of three people in one. Sometimes, I’m confused as to how he can be so active. Keeping up with him can be a chore and it can be hard to keep up with him. He could wake up by 3 am and he’d want to be played, interrupting my much-needed sleep, recovering from his antics of the previous day. It doesn’t help that my son prefers to play with me rather than my wife. The joy and beauty of fatherhood — he always makes me smile— but being a father consumes a lot of money, time and energy. With our daughter on the way, I think I’m better prepared for the stress of fatherhood. I wish I knew earlier how stressful it was, maybe I would have delayed having kids till I was financially buoyant enough to hire a full-time nanny, but I have no regrets.
Nothing prepared me for fatherhood. I had to be deliberate about being there for them. A few weeks back, Lagos was locked down in traffic. I walked for an hour, in the rain to get a bike so I could pick up my daughter from the creche. I had always known that I wanted to be there for my wife and daughter but I later discovered that it’s not by mouth alone.
I think I was fairly ready. But if I’d say, I wasn’t ready for the outpouring of love I was of giving. You just find newer levels to get to and new ways to love your kids.
I wish I knew the degree to which you had to be intentional about being an involved father. It’s not just about saying “I’m going to be an involved father.” It’s about actually being there for them — eating with them, playing games, watching TV, cleaning them up, etc. You need to be selfless because sometimes, they want to have your time and attention when you’d rather want it to yourself. It takes every bit of willpower for you not to be cranky after your kid wakes you up to go to the toilet at 2 in the morning. Or abandoning your much-needed nap to go play with them.
I also know that it’s not rocket science. You just need to take it one day at a time. Don’t overthink it, because every day is peculiar. And no matter your slip-ups, they’ll love you regardless.
In my case, I wasn’t surprised by much in fatherhood. It hasn’t thrown us any curveballs so far. I always knew the kind of father I wanted to be, focusing more on using words rather than be a shouting and spanking parent. So far, we’ve kept to that and my girls are well-behaved.
I also already know that my girls are going to grow up to have different and individual personalities so I’m sure that’s not going to surprise me either. The only thing that’ll always be a challenge will be providing for their many needs because they aren’t trust fund babies. Not saying we have it all figured out, no one does, but we’re doing okay.