The Hardest Thing About Being a New Dad

She looks at me as if I am frightening her. Briefly looking into my eyes before screwing them up tight and wailing. She doesn’t want to be there it seems, in my arms, she won’t accept any comforting that I can give that has worked before. My wife returns from her shower taking her out of my arms. She settles, I leave the house. Cycling on my way to work, I try to look for an answer that rationalises it beyond the thoughts that maybe she doesn’t like me, or that my frustrations rub off on her, or that my lack of knowing what to do is apparent and unsettling to her.

I get home, take her from my wife, spend the next hour bouncing and rocking her on a knife edge. I change hands to get more comfortable and this upsets her. I change direction, and this upsets her. I look down and ask her what’s wrong, and she cries. Real tears now. Each upset takes longer than the last to resolve; to return her to the knife edge. I lay her down and will her to fall asleep so that she doesn’t have to endure me any longer. I want to be there for her, to make it better, to be the dad that she needs, but right now it seems I can’t. My wife takes over, reads the story and puts our angel to sleep. I go downstairs, my head in my hands, trying to look for that answer again.

Not every day is like this, only sometimes, and unfairly it happens to be the times I feel most tired, or stressed. But on these days, when it is like this, it hurts me. I know I shouldn’t, but sometimes I can’t help but feel that there is something that I am doing that makes her upset or grumble, and that sends things spiraling down. Sometimes it does seem like she is happier with my wife. Sometimes it does seem like she is frightened of me, or that my badly concealed mood is affecting her. And so the seeds of doubt in my own abilities begin to grow. Am I cut out to be a dad? Am I cut out to be her dad? To think that you can’t do this; to be this person’s dad, for me, that is the hardest thing about being a new dad.

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10 thoughts on “The Hardest Thing About Being a New Dad

  1. Pingback: The Easiest Thing About Being a New Dad | How to be a New Dad

  2. English is not my mother tongue, so I don’t know what you mean by “bouncing and rocking her on a knife edge”. If I take that literally, I would be scared too. 😉 I wouldn’t take it too personally though. Kids go through these phases. I know how many doubts parenthood bring. It’s great you are so in touch with how you truly feel inside.

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  3. It’s difficult not to take every setback personally, isn’t it? But as long as you’re there for her and showing that you care and love her, you’re doing a good job. In those early days, that’s all we can do – look after them. Reciprocation comes later.

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  5. Pingback: Something for the weekend: Decisions and consequences | Slouching towards Thatcham

  6. I often describe my eldest (almost six) as being on a knife edge! It’s all about finding what works for the child isn’t it! I hope things start getting a bit easier 🙂

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