Are you okay, Dad?
A message to new fathers around the world.
It's late. You're running off barely sixty second power naps and your hands are more than likely trembling. Plus, there's probably a hot flush encased somewhere beneath the wildfire of emotions. You're drinking far too much coffee and the hours are beginning to merge into one. And what's more – it's only been a week since you brought your baby home.
It's a lot to take in, isn't it? Of course it is. You're literally taking control of a new life and trying to raise them as best you can whilst outsiders scrutinise your every gesture. Mum, Dad, Aunties, Uncles, long distance cousins – you name it. When it comes down to raising your own – people will always judge you. And you know what? Let 'em. You've got far more important things to be worrying about.
Speaking of concern, it's about time we addressed the elephant in the room. The elephant being you. And the concern being from me, another father, wondering if you're okay. Has anybody asked you, you know, since the baby arrived? Sure, I know Mum has taken the brunt of it all – but you're still here. And, you know what – you need asking too.
Are you okay, Dad? I mean, really – really okay?
We get it. We're men. We're not supposed to show our feelings because it might send our species into a third dimension or something. We've trained ourselves to bottle up our deepest emotions and put them on the back-burner. But, you're safe here. I'm safe here. I'm not judging you. Nobody needs to have any reason for concern here. It's okay.
When I ask if you're okay – I mean it. Because, honestly, the majority of the time we hear friends, midwives, healthcare visitors, and general acquaintances ask Mum endlessly whether or not she's alright. And that's totally fair. After what she's been through you shouldn't question others priorities. Mum needs support. But, then again, have you?
I understand the focus is shifted on to Mum as she battles through the recovery. And yes – we need to be there with her every step of the way. But deep down, somewhere lurking evilly – something is dragging us down too. We're also feeling the struggles as we adjust to life with a new member of the family. We need help, too. Sadly, however, nobody thinks to ask us.
So, again, I'll ask you. Are you okay, Dad?
I can't speak for everyone, of course. I don't know you and you don't know me. What makes you think I'm qualified to ask you such a basic question? Well, I can't give you any concrete proof that I'm struggling too. But, I am. I'm with you.
As a father of three, I've become familiar with the newborn stage all too well. That's mainly because my trio are all incredibly close in age. I have a three-year-old toddler demanding things I can't afford, a one-year-old screaming for things I can't find, and now, a newborn urging for things I don't have time for. It's a lot. And yes – I am very tired. And I think you are too.
It was only the other week that I stood with bloodshot eyes in my living room with my newborn daughter cradled in my arms. The midwives were doing their rounds, and a whole heap of questions were being fired out as we tried our best to answer them. Only, not once did I hear the words, "are you okay, Dad?". That hit me hard, I won't lie. I was evidently shattered to the core and clinging on to reality. But nobody wanted to know about the errors in my code. And, yeah – that hurt.
Perhaps you're working late and have no time for sleep at all. Maybe you're staying at home for the initial newborn phase. Everybody has a unique story and not one is ever the same as the next. We all have our own insecurities and worries during parenthood. We all want what's best for our kids but never quite know how to express it. And that's okay!
Admittedly, the first few months are a confusing time. You're switching sleeping patterns, working scattered hours, eating microwave meals and surviving off of quickfire bursts of optimism. Everything is insane and the whole world is evolving around this one fragile life right between your arms. That's enough to make any grown man feel afraid. But, know this – we're all in the same boat. We're all afraid.
You probably don't hear it enough – but you're doing an incredible job. Just being here every single day and pitching in even in a complete perplexed state – that's amazing work in itself. I mean, sure, it's hard, and nine times out of ten you'll want to scream – but you've got this. Tomorrow will come and that little one won't quite be so little anymore. So do yourself a favour and enjoy the experience!
Truly, I hope you're okay, and that the pressures of parenthood aren't slumping you down. I hope you're taking the time to catch a breather and remembering to be yourself as well as a father, too. Don't ever lose sight of the man you once were prior to the baby joining your fold. Keep a firm hold of those dreams that you might've had years ago – because they'll be coming back sooner or later.
One day at a time. That's all it takes. You've got this, Dad.
- Jord Tury