If you were so inclined, you could spend the entire 9 months between conception and birth reading book after book, each of which ‘guarantees’ to give you the authoritative and complete lowdown on the whole baby ‘experience’.
They are, I am sure, a positive thing – I’m not a fan of these manuals myself, but that’s just personal preference; I think there’s a point where preparation can teeter into obsession. That said, there’s a topic that none of these baby books devotes so much as a word to:
THE POO FACE
Suddenly a cry rings out, causing a shudder of tiredness to run up my spine and take root in the bags under my eyes. Next, probably by magic, your feet find the floor and you question y our existence. The door opens and a night light illuminates the face of a crying toddler, you smile broadly – pushing back your own desire to cry. Then, tot in arms, you collapse into the chair and break into a droning “Incy Wincy Spider…” as you look at the clock. It’s 3 am. But the tot doesn’t care about the time. Why? You get your answer as the full flavour of the nappy he’s just filled wafts towards you. Happy Birthday.
You’re at that point in a computer game, the one where you think you’ve nearly finished. You’ve mastered the gameplay, you know all the little tricks and strategies that lowly beginners miss. You’re feeling pretty smug, then suddenly – rather than being congratulated for completing the game – a big ‘Level TWO’ sign drops into view! Within moments you discover that ‘Level TWO’ is much harder than ‘Level ONE’. This isn’t a game anymore.
After briefly considering trying to wrestle the pouch from the woman, I dismissed the idea. One of the issues of being a large man is, if discovered fighting with a Miss Marple look-a-like in the Co-op, few people are likely to believe that you didn’t start it. So I took another pouch from the shelf and began to walk away. She muttered something as I left. I ignored her (and the stares of the other customers) deciding instead to take refuge in the cheese aisle.
Men feel that becoming a primary provider of parental care will effect their status, their career prospects and, frankly, their manliness. As long as these beliefs are held by a majority of men, there will be never be true gender equality around childcare.
I’m proud to be taking part in Vilo Sky’s ‘Managing to be dad’ conference.