Having your first child changes you
Alex is five now; coming on Six. He’s growing faster than I can catch up. To me, I can remember him screaming down the house for his next milk session, and like it was only yesterday. Soon he’ll be 10 and then before I know it he’ll be going for his first job interview. But, let’s rewind a little for now to about the time when Alex was first born and we were settling into our new roles and routines as parents.
A little before Alex was born Natalie made me feel a comfortable man. For a person that suffered from Anxiety, depression and lots of other Mental Health issues, the dynamics in our household worked for me. She was really really great at calming that savageness that would shred my mind like a rogue lawnmower. It was calm, comfortable, she was my everything. I looked up to her, and it worked. My life, well, it was better than it had ever been. For the first time in my life I felt organised, in routine and focused. She was the first ever woman that I felt actually looked up to me in some form or another, and I felt loved. I still do as a matter of fact. But back then, it was calm, uncluttered and simple.
Then Alex happened
Make no mistake, having a child can make or break a couple. I’ve seen it before and I’m sure I’ll see it again. One thing you just can’t do is found a relationship on a child; that’s unhealthy for you and super-unhealthy for the child. Having a child seriously alters the pecking order of the family for instance. Wherever you used to sit, Dad, you’re now right down there at the bottom with the “I’ll do it if I have time” kind of stuff. At the beginning it’s a good idea to become super involved with your child because leaving it all to Mum, is well, archaic. Gone are the days where the men worked and the women sat at home making babies.
As a new Father I used to take Alex everywhere with me when I was off work. I think he’s been around every part of the local area at some point of his life. Going out in the pram settled him and it gave Mum that much needed break. It also gave me some much needed exercise. (I need that again!)
People say having your first child changes you. I never believed it at first but actually, it’s changed me on a base level. Everything we do in the house works around Alex; so if it doesn’t work, even if I REALLY want to do it, I can kiss bye bye to it. I come from a place and time where I ALWAYS got what I want. Only child + 27 years single. I realised very quickly at the birth of our son that I was going to have to make a change again. I can’t say I’m very selfish any more, although I do have my moments. And I’ve learned to get by on less sleep than ever.
I’ve also had to step up a lot too. Before Alex I was very happy being a tag along person; where I’d be happy for people giving me instructions and setting to the tasks. However, I’ve had to learn to lead. And lead strongly. Not for me, but for my Son. Because if I stay tagging then so will he, and as a man he needs to learn when to lead and when not to lead. The most empowering thing you can do to your family as a father and a mother is to lead them. Because they will mimic every part of you as adults.
My Dad was a womanizing, alcoholic liar. Funny that; without hardly any contact in my younger years that’s exactly how I turned out as a young adult. It was just lucky that I saw what needed to be changed before I became him. I spent so many years trying to not be like him that I became blindsided by my own traits and ended up like him. This is common!
If you are a strong couple the dynamic will change you, but never separate you. I’m Natalie’s biggest fan, and she’s my biggest fan. It’s what should never change. Enjoy your change because it’s a hard job but it’s so, so, so worth it.