Every time we meet up with friends and family the first thing they inevitably ask is “How’s Millie?” (except for “Uncle” Spud, who’s true to his word of being completely uninterested in babies). And, of course, I have to respond with something like, “Oh, she’s fine. Yeah, she’s great,” and possibly some extra details about weight or visits to the doctor’s going well, “Yeah, she’s 8lb 14oz; even the doctor said she was a pretty cute baby, and she sees cute babies all the time,” etc.
And what I really want to say is something along the lines of, “Oh, my god! She’s so f**king amazing it frightens me! I can’t explain it! Are you mad?! How could I?! How could I possibly make you understand the sheer gale force of the love and devotion that howls through me whenever I think of my daughter?!”
People told me, before I became a dad, that fatherhood was something you had to experience, that you couldn’t describe it to anyone, but that it was “great”, but hard work. And that’s true. It’s easy to get across to someone the unpleasant smell of nappies, the occasional tedium of entertaining a very small child, the inability to just drop everything to go to the pub or the cinema. It’s easy to get the less idyllic side of fatherhood across because people who don’t have kids can relate to these things – they’ve smelt bad smells or been bored or been burdened with responsibilities, they can relate to these things.
What they can’t imagine are the good factors that come into play to offset the more onerous duties. Honestly – until you’ve tried it you cannot even begin to imagine what being a dad is like. You simply cannot.
It’s not like being in love, it’s not like Christmas when you were a kid, it’s not like winning a longed-for prize or award, it’s like…well, it’s like having a daughter (or son). It’s a wonderful experience.
To be honest, though, I tend to see it as genuinely, gobsmackingly wonderful more often when I’m away from Millie, simply because there’s more time and space to appreciate it away from all the things which always need to be done now or “soon” with a small baby. Away from these it’s much easier to get some perspective (or lack of, really) on fatherhood and the sheer staggering wonder of having a daughter.
And obviously a lot of this is hormones clouding judgement, ancient genetic-level responses kicking in in order to ensure the next generation of human beings gets born and raised, programmed responses to the particular form and shape of a baby face (and in particular Millie’s face). In my head I know that, I’m fully aware of my perceptions being quietly manipulated so that I can’t help myself in the face of this primal urge that demands that I do almost anything for Millie.
But I don’t care. Because the bunsen burner of love gets turned up to a roaring blue flame whenever I see a picture or bit of video of her, or – better still – Millie herself, and I can’t help continually kissing those chubby cheeks of hers, or smelling her head, or trying to comfort her when she’s unhappy, or simply grinning like a goon at her.
Really – it’s very nearly impossible to stop myself doing it.
So forgive me if, perhaps the next time you ask me about how “being a dad” is going if I’m a touch vague, and mumble, “Oh, yeah, fine. It’s great, you know. It’s hard to explain, but, kind of, yeah, well, just amazing…yeah.” Or if I suddenly go a bit mad and hysterical and over-the-top shouty. 😉
And sorry if this reads a bit incoherently now, let alone when you next see me, but I’m a bit fuzzy from my company Christmas party last night.