Part 2: Colm O'Regan on things he thought he knew - but didn't
Since he entered the world of fatherhood, MagicMum's daddy blogger Colm O'Regan has learned a thing or two about what caring for a baby entails.
In part one, he ruminated on things like exshitement and the L-word…
Here he looks at the OTHER things he has learned:
1. The other L-word
I also thought love would be all in the one direction. I understood having a baby would be creating a dependent. Someone we would need to love. I didn’t realise that after a while, THEY LOVED YOU BACK. I thought they were just passive little humanoid slugs who just lay, sat, shat, stood, staggered and toddled around shouting "FEED ME, CHANGE ME, LOVE ME, SACRIFICE FOR ME", until sometime around three when they put a heart on a piece of paper in the crèche and you started crying.
But after only a few months, a baby just gives you a hug and lays its head on your chest. You get off your complete bin on oxytocin. Who would have thought you could create a new person to love you without losing existing love? You don’t get to do that in the rest of your adult life. Make new people to love you. Apart from Mormons and remote South Sea Tribes, that is. Dictators think they are loved but they’ll never know without the crooked army. I just need her nestling in the crook of my arm.
2. It works
I don’t know how many of you work in “something to do with computers” as your mam or nana might call it. Maybe you write computer code or maybe you’re just trying to get Excel to stop giving you the circular reference message that no one understands. But there is a moment when Computer Says Yes. You’ve fixed it. And every so often with babies, you don’t know what button you pressed, whether you could do it again or not but they do the thing you wanted them to do. Somehow when you ask them to "Bring Teddy Over Here or put Dangerous Object Down Safely" and they do it, you feel like Derren Brown!
3. Hiding your bad self
There’s a lot of talk now warning of the dangers of children and screen time. In fact, I’m so paranoid about it that, in my eyes, she turns into Gollum when she sees the phone. But the problem is I’m still addicted to the thing so I have to hide around the corner when checking my phone to see if anyone has commented on my most recent MagicMum article, (we live in a mid-terraced house with one big room downstairs so there is literally only one corner to hide around).
There are other areas where child-free behaviour now gets seen in a new light. Like buying two or three cans of beer. As a man on his own, it’s fine – a few cans, the lads, watch a match, don’t talk about your feelings. As a man with a buggy, I feel like I am being watched by social services. I presume it’s the same for mothers, although you can probably buy a bottle of wine which could be a thank-you present for a dear friend. But three cans isn’t a thank you present for anyone. It’s fairly certain you’re drinking them, next to the canal while the baby plays with a collarless Rhodesian Ridgeback.
Nowadays, if I want to go to the shop to buy cans, I’ll need to buy 120 other objects to lessen the impact or I’m forced to buy fewer more expensive cans to make it look like it’s for a cheese and beer event.
4. Raisin d’etre
I thought raisins and sultanas were what you ate as a child because there weren’t any sweets. I didn’t realise they were like cocaine for babies. Once she was introduced to them it became the first object in the house that she knew for a fact what cupboard it was in. She’s in Raisin’s Anonymous now but it’s still touch and go.
5. In the Horrors
I used to wonder why so many horror movie tropes had children’s toys in it. I know now. It’s creepy. First let’s deal with the baby monitor. If you haven’t at some point looked at a baby monitor and had the fear that you’d see a ghost, a burglar, your own child but with a beard, hear someone speaking Latin, then you’re focussing on the wrong fears.
Something about the peaceful scene on the screen mixed with the “mysterious CCTV” style screams BAD SHIT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.
And then when your nerves are suitably frayed, accidentally bump up against a child’s toy in the dark setting off a creepy nursery rhyme tune and you will probably run out of the house shouting or shooting.