When I was a teenager my older sister gave birth to my nephew and I lived with her for quite a significant period of time, helping out and what not. I held my nephew aloft flying through the air, he giggled loudly and proceeded to puke with arrow like aim down into my open mouth...The way I took it in-stride showed me I was more than ready to be a dad!
Have you ever been so excited you don't remember how something happened? (No I don't mean the conception!) I mean the moment when my wife told me I was going to be a dad. I think it was a tentative text followed by a confirmation test taken when I got home, although I could be getting that confused with the second time.
However, in my experiences so far as a father the most surprising thing is the perception of fatherhood others hold and the befuddled attitude towards a willing, involved father. First was the comment and questions about being a new father. Are you scared/nervous? Do you feel prepared? None of the questions my wife got asked about the sex, name or how you feeling? The presumption seemed to be that I was a confused and unwilling participant simply along for the ride! It irked me a lot, WE had decided to have a baby and were BOTH delighted at the news.
It continued on from there... The health visitor arrived at our house and as I answered the door she inquired in a very perplexed manner "does Mrs Palmer live here?". A different health visitor exclaimed a somewhat of a panic "where are the babies?" when my wife answered the door. Both seemingly dismissive of the possible existence of the second parent required to make the baby!
Constantly in the two years so far a lot of people think I am "babysitting" the kids, looks like I'm the child catcher when I'm out with them on my own and relentless jokey references to how useless and bumbling fathers are as a group. Now that I have decided to become a stay at home father I can imagine this will only intensify. However, I have
fantastic supportive friends who have been nothing but encouraging. I also am well aware I sit in in the most privileged group on the planet as a white male living in a developed powerful country, so I have little to complain about.
This purpose of this post isn't to vent about how I or others fathers are perceived, it is about encouraging and championing the role of the new father. There are more stay-at-home and heavily involved fathers than ever these days. I think it's time we helped attitudes to change and for me that change starts with us! That's really what I want this blog to be about, helping other dads feel emboldened to challenge these preconceptions and support each other.