We all make mistakes. We must, to improve ourselves and to grow as people. The roles we play in life will help define the trajectory of those around us; and those closest to us, will always be influenced by our actions and decisions as they are in orbit around us, and you around them. But sometimes we don’t get things right the first time round… It takes practice and a reasonable amount of trial and error.
To put it simply, I have made the mistake of being there, but not being present. Since the birth of our little Angel, I’ve been working almost non-stop with very few full days to spend with my other half and my baby. Despite efforts to try and minimise my absence, all fathers that go back to work following a measly two weeks of leave, will know that its damn near impossible to strike a balance that feels right or is even remotely ‘enough’ of a balance.
My better half on the other hand spends every waking moment raising our diamond, and really gets a chance to get to know her and learn about her little habits and her real wants and needs. The fact that I cant always do this stings a little. The first time I felt this was when I initially felt the pang of not having a boob to be able to feed my daughter and help my wife out with nightly feeding sessions. Thankfully bottles helped remedy that but the first seed of uselessness was sown very early on. There are just certain things that I cannot do!
Now this is not the mistake. What I class as a mistake is when I very recently felt myself letting go of these frustrations and almost accepting the situation. This resulted in me effectively letting my wife crack on alone and not using the time I could’ve potentially made up for my absences wisely and taking advantage of the fact that I could change her, bathe her, feed her and put her to bed. I’ve taken steps to reduce the guilt of not being ABLE to do these things as much as I feel I should, by shying away from them altogether.
I love changing and feeding my baby, putting her to sleep, reading to her at bedtime and taking her out on the days that I can. To be able to achieve these things I literally have to say NO to the alternatives. To take control of every opportunity to do the things I feel like I’m missing out on is the only way to be able to rise above this feeling.
My baby girl laughs everyday. She giggles and coo’s all day long and I realised yesterday that I hadn’t heard her do it in over a week. So I took the opportunity to hold her on my lap and have a precious moment with her and she did it! She laughed and smiled! It was the best, most rewarding, minor but absolutely HUGE thing!
There are some things that I might miss (like her first word, or step etc) and others I will experience by chance; like her first spoonful of mashed banana as I happened to walk in the door from work in time… 10 minutes later and I would’ve missed it. The point is that my girl won’t wait for me to grow up, and I cant use the reasoning ‘my wife does it better’ as an excuse. I mean she IS better than me at changing, feeding and putting her to sleep but its because she has shit loads more practice than me. But an effective set of parents, work best as a team. My parents alone are a living, breathing and successful example of that. Who better to learn from?
It’s very easy to slip into a routine of being less hands on and that, to me, is a grave mistake. Human beings have hundreds of thousands of brain impulses pushing them down paths of least resistance, and as we all know, these easier paths are not always the right paths. Take the scenic route and you will cherish the view and have a chance to be a part of the beautiful moments of wonderment and discovery that your child has.
Having reflected on this for a while, I believe my work-life balance will be completely dictated by me, taking full advantage of the precious moments I can make for myself. No one will make them for me and I’m glad I’ve recognised this early on. Having parental wobbles, I feel is perfectly positive and taking advantage of such reflection to improve something that weighs down on you is always a good thing.
We’re truly a very happy family but I wont make the mistake of not being present and completely in the moment ever again.