Before you have children, it’s a universally accepted fact that all dads must cut the cord. But after the experience of sawing your way through a piece of bodily tissue, you’ll vow to never again go anywhere near that large pair of scissors in the delivery room.
You’ll crave the chance to go to the toilet on your own
Once you have children, the lock on the toilet door is there for display purposes only. Your kids will think nothing of wandering in and asking: “poo or a wee, Dad?” More worryingly, you’ll find yourself not even bothering to shut the door any more. Fine when it’s just you and your family in the house; less good when you forget that your mother-in-law is staying for the night.
Before the birth, you’ll overhear the midwife talking about a ‘sweep’ (if you don’t know, don’t ask) and maybe a VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarian, I’ll have you know). Once your son or daughter has been born, people start asking whether you’re embracing ‘controlled crying’. The world of the dad is awash with parenting jargon, most of which will remain utterly impenetrable for many years to come.
Until you have a child, there are only two things you can remember about Channel 5: its launch in the Nineties fronted by the Spice Girls, and the fact that Kirsty Young never used to sit behind a desk when she read the news. But that all changes when you have a toddler in tow. With shows like Peppa Pig, Roary the Racing Car and Thomas the Tank Engine, Channel 5 is an early morning Mecca for any parent with young kids. Just make sure you’re ready to hit the mute button when the high-octane, permanently smiling presenters appear.
As soon as your baby is born, you become responsible for a tiny, vulnerable, beautiful new creation – who, in your eyes, cannot do anything wrong. Fast forward a couple of years, and your previously docile child is now throwing yogurt at the
wall, stamping on your iPhone, or pulling the toilet roll off its holder for the eighth time that morning (and it’s still only 7am). Out of nowhere, ‘The Rage’ rises up within you, as you feel a searing sense of injustice and annoyance like nothing you’ve experienced before. You know you can’t get mad at your toddler – so instead, you simply put your fingers in your ears and make yourself another coffee.
Your student self would be appalled by this – but the idea of being awake until 2am by choice is frankly ridiculous once you have a baby to consider. With early starts and interrupted nights as the norm, hanging out with David Dimbleby on a Thursday night feels like the very meaning of “adventurous”.
That moment when you move your baby on from milk to solids can be a trying one, especially if you discover that they’ll only eat breadsticks and yoghurt. And that’s where Annabel Karmel comes in handy. This amazing woman writes recipes which miraculously result in a 2-year-old wanting to devour courgette, or onion, or ham. Your toddler eats healthily, you feel rather virtuous, and everyone’s a winner.
Before your baby’s birth, you’ll feel nervous – but excited. You know you’re going to love your new son or daughter but when they arrive into the world, you’ll experience the most amazing, extravagant, off-the-scale adoration. The smell of their head, their tender cries – everything about them seems incredible. Before you become a father, you’re confident you’ll love your child – but until it actually happens, you can’t even begin to realize just how all encompassing this will be.