It has been a while since we had a blog from guest writer Dan Steel (@steelydan80) so I thought, now he is 3 months in to journey of parenthood, it was time to check in and see how he was getting on… (and once you have read the below, check out my 3 month blog from back in April and compare and contrast – https://tireddaddyuk.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/a-to-z-of-the-first-three-months/!)
The last three months have gone by in a blur of smiles, tears (his and ours), poos, wees and puke. There have been incredible highs and some very late night lows- but overall it has been the best 3 months of both our lives…
Smiles and raspberries:
A good friend said shortly after the birth of our son, “Don’t expect him to be remotely interesting for the first few months, but when he starts to smile, you’ll have a new best friend.” This couldn’t be truer. There is currently nothing (with the possible exception of all the moments when he is asleep) that brings me more joy than watching Seb smile and giggle. I have become increasingly needy since his first smile and now perform all manner of humiliating acts to make him grin- it is always worth it! Frustratingly, Mr Giraffe gets more smiles than I can possibly hope for.
Proud of having never read a book about parenting, Natalie and I continue to freestyle it through each day with the help of Google (and sheer luck). However, possibly as a result of missing out on a paragraph written somewhere about how to do night time routines, we have inadvertently got him into the habit of lying in our bed between the hours of 10 and 11pm, wide awake and happy as anything. This is the best hour of my day- everyday. As I put my earplugs* in, kiss Natalie and Seb goodnight, and roll over at 11.01- the look of his smiling face helps me to sleep like the proverbial baby (just kidding).
My most recent ‘parenting win’ was teaching him how to blow raspberries. I really didn’t expect it to happen- but after about 300 attempts – he now copies me every time I do one- unless I am trying to demonstrate to a third party- in which case, he just stares at me and quite often poos himself.
Cold dinners and the joys of being able to pause TV…
As parents we now take it in turns to have a hot dinner. Or on a particularly ambitious night, we tag team throughout a meal so that we both manage at least 3 mouthfuls of hot food. Going out for lunch with friends with a baby is far from a chore, it is a chance to palm him off on others while we eat (as their food goes cold).
Another unanticipated drawback of parenthood is that it now takes us about 3 days to watch an episode of The Fall or The Missing. We have made the decision to pause every time he cries so as not to miss anything…. and then eventually pass out before it finishes. There are probably two obvious solutions to this: 1) Subtitles- but I’m not much of a reader; 2) Stop watching TV that will almost certainly mentally scar our 3 month old son- meh.
Knees and sanity…
I have come to the conclusion that the first thing to go as a dad is your knees, followed shortly by your sanity. Somehow, and I really can’t work it out, Seb knows when I am standing and when I am sitting, no matter how soundly asleep he might appear. Sebastian (as I call him when I am being serious) does not like me to sit. EVER. I walk 10 km a day in my living room alone trying to sooth him to sleep or just stop him from wailing. Between bending down to pick him up and put him down on his various play mats; bouncing in time to Up Town Funk (with and without child) and changing him on the floor of every room in the house countless times a day, my knees are wrecked!!
My sanity is not far behind. I spend whole days at work, where I am convinced that if someone asked me my name I might have to pass. I walk in and out of rooms with no idea why (sometimes this includes the classroom where I “teach”). And perhaps most telling of all, I occasionally entertain the idea of having another child.
Day out with daddy…
Without doubt, the highlight of the last 3 months has to be the time that Natalie let me out for the day with Seb- on my own. It was brilliant!! Every time I managed to do something (that Natalie did every day, 10 times a day) I would mentally and sometimes physically (in a baby changing room mirror) high five myself! I thrived on the looks off other mums, who (in my delusional mind) stared in admiration at me – a dad – out – on his own. I marched amongst the mums at Waterstones Café with a Latte in one hand and a one socked baby in the other, nodding with an air of- that’s right, I got this down. I felt 10 feet tall! They smiled and murmured about how brave I was. At least that’s what I told myself the smiles and whispers meant. I expect the actual meaning was one of- “Bet he phones his wife for help within the hour.” WHICH I DIDN’T!!
The day was full of parenting milestones for me. I used a baby changing room for the first time. They are (and I refer to John Lewis in Southampton) incredible. It was like a new world. There was a whole world of other parents behind the door, all offering supportive glances as I smeared poo around Seb’s body! It was a safe haven away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping centre on the other side of the door. I stayed longer than I needed to; though arguably not long enough to do a proper job! After about 30 minutes, I braved the Men’s department of Next- whose service does not, apparently, include looking after your baby while you try jeans on!
All in all, it was a great day out! We both survived and it was all worth it for the look of obvious relief when Natalie saw us 4 hours after setting us loose on the streets of Southampton, still in one piece- minus one sock.
In sum, the last 3 months have been emotional, exhausting, stressful, caffeine fuelled, but ultimately AMAZING!
NB: I write this with an overwhelming dread of the horrors of sleep regression and teething playing heavily on my mind. I wonder if the ‘6 months as a Tired Daddy’ will be quite so upbeat!?? Here’s hoping.
(* Earplugs! How the hell did you get away with that Dan!!!?? – Editor)