I ended up missing a day of posts this week because work piled up and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to finish everything that needs to be done. But I made it back on the horse for Friday of the week of posts and, as happens so often in parenting, it may not have been perfect, but it worked out pretty well all the same. I’ve been pretty pleased with the way my posts this week have turned out, though they were mostly shorter than usual. I hope you’ve enjoyed them too.
I was checking out the Dad Bloggers Facebook group yesterday – yes, there’s a Dad Bloggers Facebook group – and one of the dads had posted a request for advice for expectant fathers. Apparently his friend’s wife is pregnant and he figured he would cull the dad blogger community for some pearls of wisdom that he could give to his friend. I’m not going to post the answers here; there were a ton of them, plus I’m pretty sure the guy who asked for input is going to use them in a blog post of his own. As far as my own bit of advice is concerned, I said that nobody really knows anything about parenting and that the new father should figure out what works for him. I also included a link to my post from last June about the things I didn’t expect when I became a parent.
One of the other answers was that new fathers shouldn’t be disappointed if they don’t necessarily feel that immediate overwhelming feeling of love and devotion to their infant child. When I thought about it more, I felt like I should have answered with something more along those lines, since I also struggled to find that same sense of connection when Eitan was born. Of course, there were a bunch of other answers that made me think, “Oh, I should have said that,” but that’s how it goes with parenting. There’s always some more advice you could have given, something else you haven’t thought of, no matter how diligently you’ve planned.
The thing that struck me most about the responses, though, was the sheer volume of them.1 So many dads were eager to give advice and support to a man who was about to become a father and, let’s face it, has no idea what he’s in for, no matter how much advice he gets. But even so, he can take comfort in the fact that there are literally hundreds of other dads who are cheering him on and hoping for his success.
That’s one of the things I felt like I was missing during my first six months of being a dad. I didn’t feel like I had anyone to talk to about how difficult I was finding fatherhood and, even though the rational part of me knew that sometimes people have a hard time making those adjustments, the emotional part of me felt incredible guilt and shame for not being better at the most important job I’d ever have. I felt terribly alone and, rather than working to solve the problem, l focused on any distractions I could find; sports, work, fantasy baseball, anything. Rather than seeking out people to talk to who might be able to help, I withdrew and shut everyone out (including my wife, by the way, which made things harder on each of us).
I’m in a much better place now, as a man, father and husband. I’m still not perfect, by any means, but I’m in a better place. I feel much more comfortable with my responsibilities and I know that a lot of that has to do with the fact that I know there are other people out there who are experiencing the same challenges I am. I talk to the dads online and I’ve gotten to know more of the dads in our neighborhood, as well. We share stories, advice and find ways to laugh about the trials and tribulations that parents endure every day. So, if I were to add anything to my bit of advice for that blogger’s friend, the expectant father, it would be that he should find a community of people who will be supportive and who will listen, no matter what he needs to talk about. Feeling that connection to a group makes everything easier, no matter how hard things are going in the moment. Even if we feel lonely, there’s no reason we have to actually be alone.
1. With a group that’s closing in on 800 members, I suppose that’s somewhat to be expected.↩