We are 4 months in now with our little baby girl. And it’s that time to look back and review the year just gone. I thought for posterity I would share a few things that have surprised me or brought just a little nod of pleasure over the past few months.
Everyone knows about the core things – sleep deprivation, no time to yourself, etc etc – and to be fair I think we have been lucky on these fronts. We’ve had a few issues, and our life has changed, but otherwise (so far) nothing really damning. It feels more like a natural continuation of our previous life rather than a complete radical upheaval; but you know, I’m sure that will creep up on us.
So I won’t cover those, but rather a few smaller things that I don’t think get covered so much.
- Ninja steps
Never in my life have I been so dainty or stealthy. If baby is finally asleep, then God forbid you wake her. Where once the house / bedroom was a relaxing zone, now the floor is your enemy and you must creep. Our ninja steps skills are pretty strong now. Creaky floorboards hold no fear for us.
2. Brushing teeth in the dark
Unexpected side-effect of this is obviously you can’t turn lights on. For us, where we have the crib right next to a tiny en-suite bathroom, this means all pre-bed and morning rituals need to be done in silence and in the dark. Opening the door without it creaking, shuffling in and finding my toothbrush blind has become an art form.
3. They sleep = you
sleep do the chores
When she was born, everyone advised: “when they sleep, you sleep”. And while this has been true for nights, during the day it just hasn’t worked out. We have succeeded perhaps once, right back at the start when we were near-crazed through sleeplessness. Instead, sleep time is the only opportunity to actually make sure the house is kept in a sane state. Or God forbid, to wind down a little and do other things in snatched 30min chunks.
4. Back to basics entertainment
Back when we were little, my sister and I used to do small, interactive plays for each other; usually murder mysteries, using Beanie Babies, a chair, and a bit of imagination. Twenty years on, I’m finding all of this flooding back to me as I desperately try to think of ways to entertain baby.
At the very start, when she was just tiny and needed mostly comforting and a bit of singing to, I suddenly found myself having to remember songs to sing to her. We have a couple of lullabies, but then soothing slow songs. I ended up finding out I knew more Adele lyrics than I ever expected, and fewer Norah Jones and Rufus Wainwright ones than I would have liked.
5. Sheer nostalgia
All of this has had the effect of sending me unexpectedly back through the past 30 years, and triggered emotional memories I had long-since forgotten. Whether it’s been half-remembering songs my own parents used to sing to me as a child, or what we did then, or tapping into the weird, simple ways we’d entertain ourselves (Beanie Baby plays, making films, making up songs or levels for computer games) or just sheer previous experience with babies – mostly seeing my cousins appear and grow up around me when I was 5-15.
It’s opened up things in my head that I’d closed down through focus on work and the narrow experience we have running from day to day.
To me, this has been the most interesting and alarming part, reconnecting and developing nostalgia for all the things I’ve enjoyed over the years, and trying to remember not to impose them too much on baby. When we’re searching for things to read, watch or do I’m enjoying the strange flashbacks I’m getting to equivalent times in the past – and how those filter through from more innocent / younger times (before mobile phones & instant video) to help empathise and inspire me now. Certainly, I think both my wife and I have got a bit softer with people, and I think this is in large part to the opening-up of a new field of experience and new memories that the baby has brought.
On the other side, I am sure it is annoying for my friends that I talk about it all the time.
So those are my notes on daddyhood. I’m curious how much these resonate with others. If you have any comments / similar / alternative experiences that you were surprised by, please leave them in the comments.
For me. I’m just finding it funny to think of baby reading this in 10/15/20 years, on what? A headset? Eye implant? Or read by all-knowing Alexa? Suggesting “retro songs” she could then listen to on Amazon Music? By then 2018 will be like 1988 and 1988 like the 1950s – just gone; a vague, distant, stereotyped decade, with a different culture filled with top hits and period costumes.