The First Time I Felt Like a Dad
This post is inspired by the 100th episode of the Dad Spotlight podcast.
My Dad Moment
The first time I felt like a dad came in the hours after my first daughter was born, while my partner was sleeping after giving birth. It came in the hallway of the maternity ward as I walked up and down with my new daughter in my arms.
In those walks – and there were several during the couple of days we stayed at the hospital – I learned the soothing bouncy walk perfected by all parents trying to comfort an upset baby. I gained confidence that I could handle parenting and I talked. I told my daughter stories about her mum and me. I told her stories about the family she had been born into. I talked to her to comfort her and to teach her the sound of my voice. Together we figured out our new relationship.
The Pattern Was Set
Those walks set the pattern for the coming months. Breastfeeding was a struggle for my daughter and my partner and until we started supplementing with bottle feeding, she was a very fussy kid who slept poorly and wanted to be eating all the time. We think she just wasn’t getting enough breastmilk and as a result was likely hungry.
This meant middle of the night walks with me through the neighbourhood until she fell asleep to give her mum a break. It meant me sitting and lying on the floor in her room reading so many stories to her, often with me falling asleep in exhaustion on the floor of her room before she fell asleep.
We also found many moments of peace with her sleeping on my chest and walking around the neighbourhood with her in a sling and then a carrier against my chest. As we walked I kept telling her stories or narrating our journey through the city.
A Dad In Search Of A Family
I was ready to be a dad long before my partner was ready to be a mum. Truth be told I was a dad in search of a family. Before getting married and before having kids I would see dads and parents out with their kids and think about how that would be me someday.
Given how ready I was to be a dad, you’d think I would have taken some time to learn some lullabies so I would be ready to sing. Singing isn’t my strong suit. However, I’ve never been short on words, so I relied on my ability to talk to soothe each of my kids.
Ten years later I still read to each of my kids and snuggle up with them whenever they need it, as I did in my first hours as a father and dad.