I think most fathers will say it, but I want to make it clear, that two weeks paternity leave is not long enough. It’s as simple as that. I would encourage anyone who is going to become a father, post April 5th, when the new shared parental leave rules come in to effect, to seriously consider what you would really be giving up if you weren’t to make the most of it.
And so, as I have now well and truly returned to work, I want to tell her how it feels.
It was incredible to spend the first fifteen days of your life together. Imagine that at that point, apart from those nights when they wouldn’t let me stay with you at the hospital, we had spent your entire life up until then together!
We spent those days staring at one another, bouncing together, dozing off in the afternoon as you lay on my chest. There were of course other moments which weren’t as “easy”, but we were both getting used to a new and exciting world, and we have both already learned so much. We went through a lot, but then also not enough, and it feels wrong that I have had to return to some old world I had before you came along. You have no idea how silly it seems to spend my days at the office, rather than with you, but I know that it’s important I do, and it provides for us all.
I miss you during the day, and feel as though I am missing out on some important lessons you need to teach us. I’m worried that as a consequence you will now need to learn to cope with a handicap in my parenting skills, as I reduce the practice I get from 24/7 to just evenings and weekends, (we’ll still get the odd middle-of-the-night nappy change).
I feel guilty when your mother lets me sleep through the night, and I then see her struggling the next day. I feel guilty saying that I have had a long tiring day, when I know you haven’t given your mother a break. I feel guilty about leaving the house in the morning, when you have just started crying. Or when I get frustrated when I return home wanting to hold you the second I come through the door, only to find you are in the middle of a feed and I have to wait.
I don’t want to say how it makes me feel to think that it’s a possibility that instead of being there to witness your first smile I will be updating a spreadsheet, or on a conference call, or waiting for the printer.
I’m so happy that I was lucky enough to have those fifteen days at least, they were amazing. But let’s just say, I can’t wait until Easter.