Week 27 – Mind wandering

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It’s week 27 of the pregnancy and minds are beginning to wander – for the both of us.

The phone call last night at 7 pm was unexpected.  I’d known she was working late in the office trying to get something done, and had the usual text to say she was leaving (about 15 minutes earlier).  However, phone calls on the way home aren’t regular and usually means there’s an expected shortage of food and she’s covering her bases.

Tonight’s phone call was different.  I could instantly identify the stress in her voice.  “Hi honey, it’s been a bad day,” were the words I heard.  The quivering voice told me it really was a bad day and it wasn’t just because of normal work stress.  “I just put a half tank of petrol (gas) in the car.”  Now this would normally not be a bad thing, except for the fact that said car is a diesel.  OUCH!  Today really is a bad day for poor preggers.

The mind has started to wander lately for my beautiful, mother-to-be.  I noticed little things at first.  Lunches left in the fridge, gravy seconds away from being poured on an iPad rather than her roast dinner, and the work pass hanging at its overnight  resting place (to be fair that one happened before, just now with a bit more frequency).  It’s a funny thing how the baby brain works, or rather more accurately,  fails to work.  It’s stranger still for me, as this lady is the most ace planner/organiser/project manager that I’ve ever met.  How can a baby cause so much havoc?

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Well, to be fair, my mind wanders too.  Yes, I don’t think that dads-to-be are immune to the baby brain either.  It’s not that I continually forget to do simple tasks that I’d normally be right on top of.  That isn’t the problem.  The problem with this man’s wandering mind is that I’m slowly starting to imagine a life with baby.  Week 27 has brought on the realisation that things are going to change massively in the next three months.

Now, I’m not sure if all men go through this stage.  I’m sure to some extent that every dad realises that their life is about to be flip turned upside down.  My realisation is stronger, I’d suggest, for the reason that I’ve been here all before (albeit 8 years ago now) and I fully understand exactly how vast the change is going to be.

So my mind has been wandering through the first few months of restless nights, diaper changes, sick on the clothes, and all around baby-being-dependent-on-our-every-moves that’s coming our way.  At times it’s a pleasant meander through all the expected joys.  At other times, it feels like a treacherous trek through the valley of the shadow of death!  OK, not that bad, but a bit daunting none the less.

If you see me walking down the street and I don’t say hello it’s because my mind is elsewhere.  It’s somewhere between my current life and the madness that is the first year of child rearing.  The joys of parenthood – we do it to ourselves!

I Know it all

Knowing everything is easy when you’re a man, because you believe that to be the truth.  Thinking anything is half the battle…isn’t it?

I’m going to be a father again – for the third time.  This, of course, means that I’ve experience (first hand) exactly two other pregnancies.  Even with one alone, I’m sure I would have learned all there is to know, but two means I’ve sealed the deal.  There is not a thing I haven’t learned about pregnancy – so I’m prepared and ready to go, and there’s nothing else I need to learn.  About 48 hours ago, I had a slight change of heart.

As hard as it is to admit it, I’ve been wrong.  My living room is home to three books written for expectant mothers (with the odd page dedicated to us fathers-to-be).  It should be no surprise that these books are written with first-time parents in mind – you’ve all read them at one time or another.   When these books first showed up in the living room, I took some notice.  I discussed a few bits about them with my partner, who herself is going through this for the first time (and thus the library of baby books).   Being a supportive man, I took the obligatory glance at the books and showed my interest.  My status as expert was supported by this first glimpse at the contents.

Book #1 was written by a doctor who seems to disagree with my take on men being know-it-alls.  In fact, her presentation of topics at a pre-schooler’s level leads me to believe that she feels men are quite stupid creatures.  It was a  horribly written guide for first-time-fathers-to-be.  Although written in the 2010s, she pitched ideas as if we were still in the 1950s.   As an example, she suggested that “men should show interest in helping mothers by doing things like changing nappies.”  STOP RIGHT THERE.  It couldn’t believe my eyes.  I’ve seen more shitty nappies and cleaned a lot of shitty bums in the past ten years, but it certainly wasn’t because I was helping out mother.  It was because it was MY child’s bum, and it was shitty, and it needed changing – those things don’t discriminate between moms and dads.  The tone of this book remained the same (at least the pages I could bear to stomach) – treating men like the person designed soley for assisting.  I was half waiting for her to suggest that “Dad should babysit every once in a while so that mom can have a night off”…but I didn’t get that far in to the book.  I decided to retreat in to my man-shell and confirmed to my partner that the writer was an idiot, and I still did know all there was to know about being an expectant dad, especially if this book was anything to go by.

Well (and this is the I’m wrong part) I decided to pick up book number two the other night.  Book number two took a different approach.  This book was parent focused and contained contributions by parents.  Compiled by Mumsnet, it includes a mix of both personal accounts by parents and factual information about planning, pregnancy, childbirth and beyond.

I opened the book expecting the usual low-brow tone in sections for the fathers, but I was pleasantly surprised.  There were the cleverly edited humorous bits catering towards us men who might need a bit of it to ease us in to the touchy-feely subjects.  However, the majority of the pieces were heart-felt, first hand accounts of what men expected, how they felt about their experiences, and things they learned along the way.  I appreciated the honesty as it helped me realise that, even though I knew a lot of the technical bits, I had forgot about some of the feelings that were about to take place!

I had forgotten that as humans, we experience things in such different ways.  We can understand the developmental stages of the baby, we can plan cots and cribs and wallpaper and baby savings bonds.  Those things are the easy bits (that’s why I know all about them).  The hard things are the emotions that we’re about to go through – ones that we may have never experienced (especially you first-time moms).  We’re going to question ourselves whether or not we’re ready for it (or ready again).  Most importantly, we’re going to be parents to these little things that (despite our best efforts otherwise) really don’t come with a manual and can be bloody well difficult to look after.

I don’t know it all.  I realised that again the other day.  Luckily I decided to pick up that book the other day and was reminded, by the experiences of others, that there are still many things for me to learn.

Sometimes wetting the bed is funny!

Fire pit

We were sat in front of this the other night.  We didn’t camp on our holiday because the weather wasn’t cooperating and I spared my pregnant partner from the pain of sleeping in a cold tent.

On our return home, the weather improved, so we lit a fire in our back yard and roasted marshmallows.  At one point my son kept prodding the fire with a stick.  As all good fathers know, playing with fire leads to bed wetting (or so the legend goes).

I looked him in the eye and said, “Stop playing with the fire or you’ll wet the bed tonight.”

A good two minutes passed, no further fire prodding took place.   I could see there was a lot of thinking going on in his head.  He eventually broke his silence and asked in the most serious voice I’ve ever heard from him.

” So dad, do you definitely pee the bed if you’ve been playing with the fire?”

I almost fell off my chair.

Kids are great, and sometimes the subject of wetting the bed can make you laugh.

Week 21 – Stuck in the middle

I wasn’t sure how to bring this in to the blog, but it’s going to come out sooner or later.  Not only am I a dad to two great kids, I’m going to be a dad again.  We’re in week 21 now and things seem to be going along quite well.

It’s kind of like being stuck in the middle at the moment.  That initial rush of excitement has come, the scary moments of those first few weeks has passed, the scans show a healthy baby, and now we sit and wait.  Of course, some cool things are happening as well.  Last night I had my hand kicked and punched for a good ten minutes (by baby, not by mom – hormones are stable).  The baby is becoming really active, and that’s exciting.

I expect no one’s sympathy, but it’s hard for dads to really get in to this baby thing at the start.  Thankfully we don’t get all of the not so great side effects of morning sickness, sleepless nights, and hormone changes.  But likewise, we don’t have little babies growing inside us.  We don’t have the most extreme bond that two human beings could ever have – that’s reserved solely for the mothers out there.  I’m not sure how other men feel about this, but it’s something it makes me a bit jealous.

Now that baby is really moving around in there, for me at least, the connection has really started to fire up.  Those kicks are the first touch I’ve felt from my baby.  That’s exciting!

Week 21 is a bit stuck in the middle, but it’s pretty good for us dads because we get the first feel of our babies (albeit through a beautiful bump)!

Hey dads out there, do you feel the same way?

Is it harder than you expected?

uphill battle

It is a wise father that knows his own child. – William Shakespeare

How many of you out there think being a dad is the best thing that’s ever happened?  I do.  I love it! But it’s not all gravy, is it?  When you were young, did you have this fantastic notion, like me, that being a dad would consist of the following:

  1. Playing hockey/football/basketball every waking moment.
  2. Teaching your kids every possible thing you know, them sitting attentively, taking in every single word you spoke.
  3. Taking them to every sporting event imaginable.  Taking them on a tour of every stadium (insert your sport here) to watch every team play a game.
  4. Always laughing, always playing, never ever having to be the disciplinarian – leave that stuff up to mom!

Well, if that’s your life now – Man, I hate you.  No, actually, good for you!  Someday maybe I’ll get there too.

My reality of fatherhood doesn’t play out exactly like that ideal dream I once had.  I play a bit of football with my kids, I teach them a few things when they’ll listen, we’ve never been to any stadiums (yet) and we manage to laugh and play quite a bit.  I do this all while being the disciplinarian in the house (I’ll explain that further some other time)! My reality is that I make a lot of mistakes as a dad, I don’t have infinite amount of time to spend with them, and I don’t have money galore to take them everywhere they want or buy them everything they ask for (not a bad thing). My reality is that being a father is a lot harder than I ever could have imagined.

But I wouldn’t change it for the world…although I do strive to make things better.

I wonder how all of you out there feel about this.  Is being a father what you expected?  What are those things you always wanted to do with your kids, but you haven’t been able to do yet? I’m making a big list of things to do with my kids (and letting them be part of it too). I’ll share them with you some day – and how I’m making a plan to get them done. Making this plan is important as it will allow these three things:

  1. Writing it down and making a plan bring it closer to reality.
  2. Getting them involved ensures that the things that I want are aligned with the things that they want.  We’re going to have a lifelong partnership of working together – not battling against each other.
  3. I want to do as much as I can with my kids because I want to truly know them before they wander off in this world and make their way without me.

I hope, like me, you are embracing the tough times, and making things better every day! Ciao for now.

In the beginning

The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything. -Theodore Roosevelt

Welcome Welcome to my blog.  This is my first proper attempt to write a blog.  I’ve toyed with the idea many times, I had a small go at it a few months back, but it was a bad attempt and I wasn’t ready to put a true effort in to putting it together.  That’s changed now!  Like anything that needs to be done properly, I’ve sat down and thought about why I want to do this, what is it I’m going to do, and made a plan to get this done.  Is this your experience behind your first attempt at blogging?

Who I am (Briefly)? I don’t think I’m an average dad, at least not in the place I live.  You know what? I probably still am the average dad, but thinking that I’m a bit different makes me feel a bit special.  I live in the UK, but I’m Canadian.  I’m 38 and still going to college with kids (some half my age).  I’ve served in the military, built scaffolds in large industrial plants, served food and beer around the world, travelled extensively, and now I’m an accountant.  A wild end I know, but it pays the bills.

This is what I look like.

A young Rudyard Kipling and me!
A young Rudyard Kipling and me!

That’s me and my son.  He’s in disguise because I’m not sure if I want to reveal his identity just yet.  I’m not sure if it’s fair on him, or even safe to do so.  Since this is going to be in the world of the internet, and any one can see it, I think I’ll be cautious at first.  I suppose that a few of you have may have the same concerns.  I’d like to know what you think about that.  Am I being stupid or is this a sensible thing to do?

Oh ya, I have a daughter as well, but there’s not a chance in hell that I’m ready to put a picture of her up yet.  I’m a bit protective.  She’s in school now, and I’ve had to hold myself back a few times from “having a quiet word” with her so called boyfriends…just to set some ground rules.  I’m sure there’s going to be a few posts on protective-fatherness, but those will come in time.

Oh ya, oh ya.  I’m also going to be a dad again.  That’s gonna make three!  There’s going to be 8 years between my daughter and her future brother/sister.  This gives that child a massive advantage because they’ll benefit from all the things I’ve realised makes a better dad.

What this blog is going to be about?

This blog is going to be about my experiences so far as a dad.  I’m going to write about what I’ve done, what I’ve seen, the good things that happen, and probably about the mistakes I’ve made.  As the title suggests, I’m a bit of a thrifty guy.  I don’t make much money, and I’m careful with what I have.  I’ll share things I think is important for parents to know about when it comes to their finances.

I’m going to ask a lot of questions.

I don’t just want to spew out my experiences in a one way mind dump.  I want to hear about what other people think.  I’m really interested in how others raise their children, what works for them, and what worries them in this crazy world we live in.

To be quite honest, there isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not terrified that I’m not properly preparing my kids for the future.   I  imagine this is a common experience and most of you out there feel the same!

I almost forgot in my bit about myself.  I’m a bit of a food and fitness freak.  I eat in weird ways and I like to work out.  I’m probably going to post about that as well because I think it’s important to be being a man and a father….but I’ll get to that some other time.

Here’s my parting thought for the day!

The next time one of your kids wants to tell you something do this!

  1. Stop what you are doing.
  2. Get on their level.
  3. Listen intently.
  4. Hear what they are saying.
  5. Don’t touch your phone/computer, don’t be multitasking, don’t do anything but listen.
  6. That’s it…

Ciao