Yes having a baby in the house turns you into something of a ninja. I can creep into a room silently, transfer my baby from my arms to the cot with barely a sigh and not only exit the room to do so with the style and panache of Fred Astaire. Pirouetting on one foot round the creaky floorboard and over the squeaky la maze toy that seemed so much fun when you first got it but now gives away your position if you so much as touch it. Those fucking rustling wings, thanks Jaque the Peacock!
I know what you’re thinking, we’re going to cover having your patience tested here but you are wrong. I mean control in a much more physical way over your body. I have tested my ability not to have a pee to the very limits, a choice between your bladder or moving your baby at all as she is finally, finally dropping off is no choice at all. Before you had a baby you might have thought you had 2 minutes before it was new pants o clock, but not now you’re a daddy. Now you can push through that barrier into a golden field where you no longer need to worry, such things as bladders and toilets no longer matter to you, you can see the fucking matrix neo now go and get your leather coat.
Along with your new powers of control you will find an unimaginable stamina. You may have pushed yourself before, you might have run a marathon but when you find yourself at the end of a 40 night stretch of sleep deprivation, your body broken your mind a daze and the very fabric of reality now melting before your eyes you will realise that you are still able to stand and hold that baby, swaying rhythmically. Not just stand, but sing and remember the words to your baby’s favourite lullaby. Further still, you will have the safest and most secure but still gentle and loving hold imaginable. Never mind the Matrix, now you are one with The Force. You no longer notice the pain, you don’t feel anything except the moment and from somewhere deep inside a smile forms as you start to enjoy and treasure these moments. Then an hour or 2 later you get up and go to work, do a full day and start all over again. Remember a Jedi’s strength flows from The Force…. You are truly a Jedi Knight.
A baby brings many positives, but perhaps one of the most double edged is the sense of self awareness. Fergotron once told me that it is hard letting anyone in to your life, because once your guard is down you are vulnerable and that is when you can truly be hurt. That is true with your lover, but it is how couples really work – they balance each other out, where one is weak the other supports and the two learn from each other. With a baby you get nothing back, it is all you and you have to decide what you will impart on this canvas. It is, in many ways, the clearest mirror you have ever seen. All the parts of yourself that you hate, that make you uncomfortable , that you have learned to accept because you can keep them to yourself; they all flying to the surface there to remain as you battle against yourself to not pass them down to the thing you love the most. You might be afraid of spiders, or dogs perhaps. Or maybe there are parts of your personality that make you despair – your lack of follow through, your stubbornness or your bad temper. Maybe you have some kind of disability or other something else you view as a weakness. Certainly I have many, and certainly having the Lizzy Face has made me acutely aware of them. They shape the decisions I make, and they serve to cause me great pain when I succumb to them and chastise myself beyond anything else. When you are responsible for forming the mind of a person, you must face every one of your daemons, but only you can overcome them. I hope that I manage to.
Members Only Club
Suddenly, once you have that baby, you are ushered through the golden door to the VIP area of the members club. You are welcomed with warm, very tried arms by your fellow members. It’s a worldwide membership, bigger than the illuminati. It’s the group of parents. Suddenly you have an understanding. You might have thought that you knew before, you helped bring up your siblings, you spend loads of time with your cousins. You don’t know shit dude. Now you are in the club strangers will stop you on the street and discuss things with you, mothers will stop what they are doing to help you with your crying baby and wherever you go you catch understanding eyes with people who know just by looking at you that you are one of them. You don’t need a secret handshake. You are never alone in this club, no matter what happens. Like at Hogwarts, help will always be given to those that ask for it. Because we all understand, and know that soon enough the tables will be turned.
Guilt becomes your new best friend. You will feel guilty about spending too much time with your baby and not helping them socialise, and at spending time without them. If you are in the house you will think you should be out and are depriving them of something and if you go out you will feel guilty for disrupting their nap schedule. You will feel guilty for what you put your parents through when you were a horrible teenager and you might also feel guilty for the way you treated your family or people at school. Suddenly you realise every bad thing you ever did to someone is something you hope never happens to your baby. You will want to write letters to everyone you have ever known but who can afford the postage these days. Just remember that guilt can be toxic, accept it, embrace it, but learn from it and don’t let it take you over.
As all my heroes; Dumbledore, Gandalf, Yoda, Johnny Cash, Freddie Mercury have said in one way or another, Love will save you. Love brought Anakin back from the Dark Side, and protected harry Potter from the killing curse. Yoda doesn’t speak much of love but tells us to beware of hate and Johnny and Freddie sang about it over and again. From the moment you first hold your new-born baby in your arms all you will be exposed to the full power of love. And with this power you will be able to combat everything else. I am not able to describe how this will change you without recycling old clichés. I can say this however, you will never know how far deep your ability to love goes until you hold your baby. And that will flow into the rest of your life, with your partner and your friends and family. You might not ever tell them, but once you know the full power of love you will never be the same again.
So one year on here we are. Still emotional, still perhaps struggling. It’s been a long ride and we have had to get to know ourselves both individually and as a couple all over again as we embrace the new identities we have as Mummy, Daddy and of course Daughter. It doesn’t seem to stop being strange, but it’s getting less so. And while I try to finish this post without starting to cry, remembering Lizzy’s first days and the many hard times since, I’m overwhelmed by how amazing a year it has been, and how despite the fact that the bad times seem awful in the moment, they are all completely dwarfed by the feelings of love and pride that wash over me every time I see my daughter, and of course, her amazing mummy.