Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Putting the record straight

About five weeks ago, I agreed to write an article on fatherhood for The Suburb, a glossy lifestyle magazine published here in West Yorkshire.

As sometimes happens with these things, the words which have just appeared in print in my name are not a wholly accurate representation of those sent across by me.

This irritates me greatly so, if you haven't seen the article or wish to read what I actually wrote, you can do so below. I think my version is better.
* * *

"I won't lie to you, fatherhood isn't easy like motherhood."

Not my words, but those of probably the world’s most famous dad, Homer Simpson.

Now, clearly, I would not possibly suggest that motherhood is in any way easy (you probably haven’t met my wife) but, as the father of a six-week-old boy, I can at least agree with Homer’s assertion that fatherhood is far from being a walk in the park.

Prior to the birth of little Jamie, I was unsure about what exactly I could offer in my impending new role.

As the youngest child of three, I’d never previously spent much time around babies and so had little experience to draw on.

And, whilst I’d been given several books to read by family and friends – Pregnancy for Blokes being one that springs to mind – I hadn’t quite found the time to actually open them.

Given that this was our first baby and therefore expected to be perhaps a week or more late, I was sure that a slot would become available before the big moment.

It was therefore a matter of some regret when, two days before the due date, I was sitting in the delivery suite at the Leeds General Infirmary wondering what was going on before me and what in goodness name I could do to help.

But, as soon as Jamie showed his face at 8.49pm that Monday night, nature sort of took its course with me just as it had done with him.

Admittedly I did get off to something of a false start after being asked to hand him back to the midwife only two minutes after holding him for the first time following fears that I would faint and drop him.

But things got better. Early next morning, I was given responsibility for pushing him down for a precautionary scan and then an x-ray on his sore right shoulder. Thankfully all was fine and I only crashed once, a glancing blow off a set of double doors.

I changed my first nappy shortly afterwards, following up with three more before I was kicked out the hospital at the end of visiting time.

Since then, I’ve done the lot – bathed him, picked out his clothes, lugged him around the supermarket in a baby carrier (something I thought I’d never do), fed him expressed milk in bottles, got up with him in the night, talked to him, even sung to him.

Now, I appreciate that none of these activities are exactly radical and should be the norm for any self-respecting father.

But the reason for me telling you is simple: I have loved every single second of playing my part, of helping our little boy start out on his journey, of protecting him, of loving him, of being a dad.

So, like Homer, I won’t lie to you either. Fatherhood certainly isn’t easy, but it’s also a joy.

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