The day my first son was born was the happiest day of my life.
That’s the standard response. If I were honestly honest, I’d say it was a drunken night involving singing, dancing and getting a frenchie sometime in my twenties. Now THAT was happiness!
But, speaking in all honesty, the day – the morning my son was born was the serenest and most content I’ve ever been. The preceding nine months were nine months of worry. Worry about what kind of father I could be. Worry about how I could provide for “it”. Worry about whether my wife would die in childbirth, and I’d be alone with a baby, unable to cope. Sobbing. While listening to Simply Red.
But it all disappeared that morning. I felt calm and confident. Like the perfect parent. And for the first six months I was. But I never needed to boast about it!
Stuff like this makes me livid. I have never felt as confident as I did when I became a father. Are dads that insecure. Do parents need this kind of validation? Who buys this for their kids? I can’t imagine what kind of new parent might think that their child isn’t cooing or gurgling at them enough, that they need it to wear this to reinforce their parental pride. It’s clearly not true either. Any father who lets their child wear this is immediately put in the lower percentile of “Best Daddies”. Mediocre at best. When their children turn 14 and disown these parents, are they going to say, “I can’t believe this! You used to wear a t-shirt which said you loved me!”?
Similarly, I’ve never liked parents who use their baby’s chest as a billboard advertising their own loves, beliefs or foibles. Like “Daddy’s new golfing partner”,”Born to play for Liverpool”, or even worse, “Born to play for Chelsea”. A better motto would be, “Man passes on misery to man”- a line from a poem I once knew … I don’t recall the lines after that. I once thought it would be, oh, all kinds of edgy to get my kid a Sex Pistols baby grow. Ha! My baby likes listening to dystopian anarchical punk! Take that, society! Until I realised that if John Lydon ever saw me, he would no doubt call me an utter c….
Continuing on this theme, there’s also a LOT of Wonderful Dad books – no doubt written by insecure, lonely fathers. I read this one with my son recently. In it, we were subjected to a self-gratifying lecture about how the protagonist’s bespectacled dad is so big and strong, and when he is lifted in the air and swung around, he feels like he’s flying. It’s exhilarating but he feels safe in his father’s arms. We read it with moments of embarrassed silence falling between us. There’s a scene in Jerry Maguire, when Jerry and his wife have lobsters with Cuba Gooding Jr and his wife. Cuba and his wife are all over each other, kissing like newlyweds. Jerry and his wife sit watching, embarrassingly aware of the inadequacies in their relationship. Reading that book with my son, it felt a lot like that. I curse the author and his sad literary cry for attention – I hope he’s just as unhappy and insecure as me.