Since learning that my fiancee Laura is definitely, thoroughly, 100% wazzed up with a small, developing foetus whose sole hobby at present appears to be to make Laura as uncomfortable, ill and exhausted as possible, I’ve found that the impending fatherhood that’s hurtling towards me faster than when Laura’s little boy Max sprints at me with his lightsaber drawn and teeth bared is starting to stir up latent fears that I never even knew existed. Fears, I suspect, that only (would-be) parents are able to understand. As this is the first time I’ve ever experienced the unmerciful worry of expecting a child and all that it entails, it’s slowly starting to dawn on me that this unmerciful worry might not be buggering off and leaving me alone any time soon, and, in fact, is only just getting started.
As a misanthropic human being who finds the majority of human beings, myself included, irrationally stupid and irritating, you can imagine my slack-jawed surprise at discovering I’ve inadvertently created one of my own owing to our over-reliance on the rhythm method. That’s probably far too much information but the point I want to make is that impending fatherhood has caused me to conjure up anxieties that can emphatically remove one’s ability to think in a rational or cohesive manner. The slow but unremitting descent into parental madness has already begun, mostly when I’m sitting at my desk at work, scoffing crisps I’ve half-inched from the vending machine, and staring into the middle distance while the words ‘parent’, ‘dad’, and ‘what. the. actual. fuck’ do a tormenting dance of doom round my head.
Fortunately, I’m currently in the middle of an extensive training programme with Max and I’m quickly learning the ins and outs of upcoming dadhood. I’ve discovered with some aplomb that discussions with a small child don’t necessarily have to involve a conversation as such; more a frenetic rap of improvised words and half sentences spoken at 400mph and usually referencing a toy weapon, a heavily-sugared treat or an assiduous analysis of a favourite Ninjago character. Another startling revelation is how the space-time continuum dramatically alters whenever I’m dragged into the living room by way of a tight fist around my thumb in order to play some elaborately imagined game. Spending whole hours of your time breathlessly staggering around a room in the throes of a Star Wars Lego battle, while under strict rules that forbid you to use any Lego model other than that with which you’ve been carefully assigned, is immensely dispiriting when you realise that the whole hours you think you’ve been doing this actually amount to a grand total of about twelve minutes. It’s mind-blowing.
I’ve made peace with the unavoidable fact that whenever I’m in the bathroom it’s going to be accompanied by a symphony of relentless knocks on the door with cries of, ‘can you come and play yet?’ I’ve come to terms with being used as a climbing frame when I’m minding my own business on the settee and Max is in a playful mood, clambering all about my person simply because he can. I absolutely adore the sound of his laughter and the spontaneous hugs he bestows upon me. Thanks to his tutoring I’d like to think that I’m well on my way to completing my apprenticeship in modern parenting.
Unfortunately, this valuable training course doesn’t provide skills on how to cope with fear, worry and anxiety when faced with the undiluted terrors of pregnancy, childbirth and the resulting lifetime of ‘what the fuck do I do now?’ In fact it exacerbates them. Spending time with Max is telling me all I need to know about just how frigging terrifying this is all going to be, not only from the obvious natural concern that he’s going to be okay every single day of his life, and if he’s safe, happy and healthy, but other stuff too such as, ‘am I playing this game with him correctly?’, or ‘is he having fun with me today?’, or ‘does he hate me for refusing to allow him to tip the entire tub of fish food into the tank because he thinks the fish look particularly hungry?’ Traversing this minefield of anxiety is overwhelming. Of course these may sound like trivial concerns but until you’ve experienced the fallout from providing a small child with the incorrect plate at dinner then you have no base from which to judge.
General fears and worries about actually being a parent are slowly but viciously beginning to take over my life so I’ve put together a list of the ones I think are the most shit-my-pants inducing:
The Health Of Mother & Baby
Given what Laura’s currently going through with this pregnancy there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not scrolling through horror stories on the interweb about the worst case scenarios of pregnancy and childbirth. It’s chilling reading. I spend at least a whole day a week at work trawling through articles about what to look out for, what to do, how often to check this, that and the other when reading about some awful ailment that can befall a mother and her unborn child.
In fact, about a month ago, after discovering how to dispense free espresso from the coffee machine at work and helping myself to about 19 cups, I began reading a terrifying article about a woman who gave birth to a 400lb baby sideways that killed her, and I suddenly developed severe palpitations, a thick sweat that ran down my back like a layer of frost, and extremely worrying breathing difficulties. Thankfully I was calmed down by my workmates who dismantled the coffee machine and installed parental controls to Google that blocked all internet searches that included the words ‘pregnancy’, ‘fatherhood’ and ‘complications’, as well as the words ‘Brad’ and ‘Pitt’ given what they found in my internet history.
When it comes to Laura giving birth, the only thing I care about is the health of Laura and the baby. Boy, girl, hairless, hairy, screaming, laughing, covered in ectoplasm, not covered in ectoplasm, I don’t care. The only words I want to hear are, ‘mother and baby are doing well’.
Presently, I work almost full time in a job that only pays when the overweight HR lady decides to log out of Facebook for long enough to run my hours through the payroll system. Consequently I spend a large amount of work time opening the vending machine cash boxes, taking large handfuls and replacing it with Monopoly money or doodles I do of the Queen when I should be doing more productive work like applying for jobs on the reception laptop or hiding in the disabled toilet when it’s busy. Despite how much fun it is, I can’t help but worry there’s an immoral if not criminal undertone to me helping myself to Mars Bars, Skittles and large amounts of currency but needs must.
As much as this so obviously appears to be a sound financial plan, I do have a niggling doubt that providing for my offspring in this way won’t quite offer it a secure or healthy platform for a rosy future. Just the other day I had a mild panic attack when I attempted to purchase a small Peter Rabbit-themed outfit from Mothercare. It cost nineteen sodding quid, it was smaller than my hand, and I had the depressing thought that one day I’d be using it to wash the dishes with.
As everyone is painfully aware, offspring cost money and my plan to mastermind a Point Break-style bank heist is the only way I can realistically see myself becoming financially solvent.
Responsibility/Readiness For Parenthood
What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago I was drinking all night, sleeping for up to 12 hours a day and waking up chewing off my own tongue while threatening to kill anyone who ventured within four miles of my bedroom.
Nowadays I’m awoken any time between 12am and 6am by a child who enjoys shouting at the top of his voice for his mummy the minute his eyes open and realises it’s pitch black in his bedroom. Then when he eventually rouses himself and gives Laura and me a treat by climbing into our bed without one of us having to fetch him, he’ll spend another hour giving us a synopsis of the latest episode of Power Rangers as we loll about in a kind of drug-addled fuzz before he does his level best to clamber over or stand upright on various limbs while repeatedly making punching gestures and lightsaber noises in the general direction of my head.
I’m trying to consider whether being able to withstand this daily trauma counts as a huge accomplishment and a potential step forward towards my readiness as a father because, basically, I’m shit scared of whether I’ll be able to cope with every sodding aspect of parenthood. I should probably enrol on one of those mother and baby classes, buy a doll to practice on to see what my reaction is when I accidentally drop it on a hardwood floor, and start listening to Laura a bit more than I do when it comes to parenting. In the meantime, if anyone can offer any tips and advice please do so in monetary form via PayPal to the email address at the top of this page.
I’ll Become The Scourge Of Social Media
Few things are more galling than a parent who posts nothing but images, statuses and links about their kid or parenting to social media, specifically Facebook. Apart from those vacuous fuckwits who repeatedly post links to their tedious blog imploring their digital acquaintances to read it in order to appease their sense of self-importance, a human who throws every single aspect of their developing child onto the world wide web genuinely needs to get their priorities right. The internet is for annoying people, buying shit you don’t need and being a bigot, not for ruining your mates’ timelines with pictures of a pink alien looking bewildered.
More often than not the baby pictures tend to be the exact same image of the child with a shocked look on its face except dressed in a different outfit that presumably cost more than the parent’s weekly grocery shop. If I upload my future son or daughter’s entire life onto the internet before it can walk, talk, wipe its own arse or grow to an age where it can tell me to fuck off and mind my own business then you can happily report me to social services.
My Offspring Will Grow Up To Kill Me
This is one of my biggest fears. How annoying would it be to raise a child as best you can only for it to turn on you the minute you ask it for a bit of rent once it turns 18? My best mate, Phil, a father of two, told me the other day that this was something that never crossed his mind at all but that the likelihood of it happening to me is extremely high which makes me wonder whether he himself thinks about killing me, and how often.
A similar fear is being the parent of a kid who ends up being a despotic lunatic with a penchant for genocide, a Sunderland fan, or one of those little spelks who can’t differentiate between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. Genuine concerns.
To be honest, I had another few hundred thousand fears and worries about fatherhood that I could have added to this list but at the risk of this turning into a cloying parenting blog I thought I’d better stop here.
My friends and family have insisted I’ll be able to just fall into it and be a fine father. Even people I don’t speak to or even like have contacted me to congratulate me and reassure me I’ll be a good dad which I find rather unsettling. Why I’m all of a sudden their best mate just because some of my semen can swim a few lengths without dying is beyond me.
But I digress. I should expect I’ll update the current status of my impending fatherhood over the coming months which I’m sure all both of you will be overjoyed to hear. In the meantime I’ll go back to sending irritating email to dimwitted strangers on the internet.