The new dad: married by name, single by practice
Seldom is the man who will show you the river flow when life throws him a curve ball. But that's often the case when the single man become the married man and then the new dads. John Ng shares his journey and gives you a reality check on what goes on inside the minds of our male counterparts.
Here's a massive SOS for all Marrying Men out there: If you're only weeks or *gasps* days away from saying "I do" I suggest you rethink your options. Step back from the frenetic wedding prep work and ask yourself if you're ready to be single for the first years of your married life.
I'm assuming you Marrying Men have had all the leaks in the dam plugged and the fast rising waters are firmly contained within your floodgates which means there's absolutely no stopping your freight train as both you and the missus both intend to have children. Lots of them. Immediately.
But wait! Do you really want to go down that path? You've seen your married mates fall along the wayside as they each have kids of their own, leaving you by your lonesome self. Before long you realize you would need to marry or you would no longer fit into the married conversations that all married men seem to love talking about. Talk about peer pressure.
Your mates are all "Yeah it's all good the little bub's doing well I haven't gotten any sleep but it's worth it" as they string sentences with such conviction you almost think having a baby is like easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
Or is it?
Scratch a little of the surface and New Dads will tell you they are struggling with a lack of sleep at night and tackling their day jobs with no sleep is surely no fun. If a New Dad has the luxury of catching public transport perhaps a quick shut eye may do him a world of good, though it can't be fun if he sleeps through the entire journey and is rudely awakened by the train staff to get off the train!
God forbid, a New Dad may just doze off at the traffic lights while navigating peak hour traffic and gets home in one piece. Or sneak in a twenty minute nap in the one of the public toilets and hope the boss doesn't catch on to New Dad's mysterious disappearances.
Then there are the old habits that never seem to go away. The Playstation 3, for so long your true 'other half' where it only does what it's told, never argues and enjoys getting her knobs stroked at any time of the day. You've watched the sun go down together as you struggle to clear the Level 72 Boss fight and watched the sun come up again while you consider turning to cheat sheets or GameFAQs.com to defeat the Level 72 Boss.
Or how about those lazy sleep-in weekends where breakfast occurs at 11 a.m, lunch is leftover dinner from two nights ago and dinner is just a quick take out.
Then there is the all consuming matter of finances. Before New Dad came Marrying Man came Single Man. A Single Man has no care in the world and only needs to think about he, him and himself. Health insurance? Himself. Food? Himself. Rent? Himself. Bills? Himself. An average Single Man is roughly the age of 29, mid-management and has sufficient savings for two holidays a year. Throw in a Single Woman and the benefits are halved. Throw in a wedding and the benefits and gone.
So when your mates tell you they are 'happy' and 'enjoying' every moment of fatherhood, are they for real? Surely there must be a moment or two where they took a step back and looked at the madness unraveling before them.
I'm sure when Nathan told me he didn't get much shut eye last night, surely he meant it was a fractured six hours sleep with intermittent periods of waking up and checking up on the bub. this is then followed by an excruciating crawl back to bed where New Dad is barely alive and manages another ten minutes of sleep before being rudely awakened by the missus to check up on the crying bub again. Nathan also failed to tell you he was so frustrated one night, he walked into the bathroom and slammed the door repeatedly against the wall. Oh no the missus didn't like the damaged wall one bit.
Perhaps Alexander was coping it easy from his pre-baby routine. He has always been the focal point of every party and late nights were a dime a dozen. Clearly the sudden change in his nocturnal activities has forced him to reassess his life, goals and priorities but will the party bug ever be truly extinguished from this New Dad's life?
Gary has always had a toxic relationship with money. What he earns, he spends. He doesn't believe in savings even though his earning capacity would grant him decent payouts should he invest his money wisely. Not one bit wiser when he got married, it was a massive cultural shock when he sat down with the missus to work out a financial plan. If there ever was a time to be handed a reality check, the arrival of the little one was the time. However, it will take months if not years for Gary to change the way he views money.
The one common denominator between the three of them? None of them were having any sex! Women don't feel attractive after birth and the effects can take months to wear off. New Dads can't do anything to change their wives opinions of themselves; it seems to be a case of 'When I feel like it, I'll let you know.'
Unfortunately for most men, sex doesn't happen at all for at least ten weeks after birth. It's close to twenty weeks of celibacy if one factors in the two months leading up to birth. Sex during that period is awkward and rather uncomfortable for the mothers-to-be.
So what is a New Dad to do?! No money, no sex, no life, no nothing!
As for myself? I am a little bit of Nathan, Alexander and Gary. I've been married for 22 months and Levi has just turned ten months. If someone had told me six months ago I would be enjoying parenthood I would have called you daft and get off the drugs. I got absolutely zero sleep, went to work with the weight of the world on my shoulders, struggled financially as Michele was on maternity leave and like most young couples live as each day present itself.
Levi was a massive shock to my system; I was completely unprepared to be a Dad. Mentally, I knew I was going to be a Dad but that's all I knew. "I'm going to be a Dad and I don't know what it entails but I'm just going to wing it and see how it goes. It can't be that bad as millions of men go through it each year, yes?"
Having said that, with Levi now being able to sleep unassisted Michele and I both get blissful rest at night. I arrive at work feeling like furry bunnies and rainbow, my work productivity increases and my relationship with Michele also improves. It took us awhile to get used to having a third person at home, scrape by each week with another pay check with nary a dollar left in our savings but we absolutely loved every moment of it. A dollar spent is a dollar invested.
I will not trade anything for fatherhood now but if someone were to ask me how the first three months of fatherhood was, I'd not lie. Instead, I'll tell them as it is.
"Mate, it's absolutely horrible. If you know you're having a kid soon, get all the sleep you need NOW. Get all the sex you need NOW. Save some money NOW and most importantly always tell your missus you love her. In fact go tell her NOW."
New dads out there, how are you holding up?