Dear new Dads

Mum guilt is legit and horribly real. Marriage is something that needs to be constantly worked on and you are not the centre of your universe anymore.

Having a child will change your wife/partner/girlfriends life forever. You might not feel like anything has changed for you straight away, but it has. After the initial excitement and adrenalin rush of your first baby’s delivery, you might begin to feel like you’re the 3rd wheel in your new family, you might feel like you’re helpless and hopeless and can’t do anything right and you might just feel like you’re not wanted. But you are needed and you are important, it’s just that we’re not zooming along the coastal road full of freedom in a roofless jeep anymore, we’ve taken state highway 1b instead of state highway 1 and we need to you to join us in the family wagon instead of the carefree wagon.

From the moment we found out we were pregnant with our first child, our world changed without us even knowing. Our freedom sneakily retreated into the shadows without letting us know and was replaced with constant guilt and worry that is complex and difficult to put into words. We feel guilty and worry every time we ‘need’ to let our baby cry a little longer. We feel guilty and worry about our baby when we go out to get our hair cut and leave the baby at home. We worry if they’re too hot, or too cold. We worry that we’re not doing a good enough job.

But there are things that you can do to help us. A car needs petrol (or battery power) to drive, right? We need fuel too. We would love it if you cooked us dinner, checked in on us during the day to make sure we had eaten lunch or drunk enough water. Ask how we really are doing at the end of the day. We’re not ‘fine’. We’re exhausted from the endless physical and emotional ‘giving’ that we do all day. We don’t want to go out and have a ‘break’. This is our reality. We just want you to pitch in a little more with the daily home grind that we circulate every day and every night, instead of you thinking you just need to fix us.

If you take a moment just now, put yourself in our position. We gave birth to another human. We now need to feed this human as well as ourselves. We now need to make sure we get enough sleep and that this human does as well. We now need to look after ourselves when we get sick and also look after another human as well. Sometimes we need to look after ourselves by going back to work, but we still need to look after another human before and after this (and sometimes in between). Can you begin to understand why we experience those periods of emotion overload and in your eyes, ‘over react’ or ‘blow out’? Now add your own needs on top of that… your need for physical affection, your need to have a happy wife, your need to hang out with your kid free friends. We’re barely keeping our heads above water having to provide to everyone’s needs 24/7 (because remember we’re up in the night too) and even though we desperately want to please you too, sometimes this is just the tip of an iceberg which is the size of the titanic underneath the water.

‘Time’ becomes a key aspect in a marriage, or relationships after kids arrive. Finding a balance between time for your kids, time for yourself, time for your partner, time for work and time for your family is like learning to juggle. At the beginning, its awkward and the balls fall heavily to the floor all the time, but as you learn and put practice and effort into it, you become more skilled and proficient at keeping all the balls moving at a constant speed. As you work on this juggle act, you can understand how the addition of kids can strain a relationship and why a lot of marriages end in separation and divorce.

As a child, I used to think that you got a book when you had a baby and it told you how to do everything (I also believed in Santa until I was at least 10). Oh how naive I was. How naive we all are until we have a child and it turns our world on its head. There is no book, no manual, no right way of doing anything when you have a baby, when you get married, as you walk through life’s path. There is only learning how to juggle effectively to keep the ball in the air 90 % of the time, and learning how to pick the balls up after they drop to the floor the other 10%.

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