My family members were overjoyed when my son, Vir was born. People around told me that this moment ‘should be’ the most joyful moment of my life. But, I somehow couldn’t quite feel that joy… The joy of fatherhood, of holding my son in my arms…I was relieved that my wife was doing well and the little one was a healthy baby. That was about it, really!
The joy of fatherhood:
But, I wasn’t sure what that feeling of joy that I was told I must (and will) experience was all about!
To be honest, I tried looking for that joy. I asked other new fathers, my own dad, and went up on the internet trying to figure out ‘that joy’ looked and felt like. I did not feel joy. Period!
From day 2, the parenthood responsibilities bestowed on us. And amidst all the supposed joy (which was missing), came the anxiety! We were living away from our parents and were clueless! taking care of a new body wasn’t easy. While my wife was taking care of the c feeding needs of Vir, I wasn’t sure what could I have offered at that point. On top of it, Vir wasn’t really supportive. A really tough diner with super-odd feed timings. He would break into incessant crying even if there was a minute’s delay.
My wife and I used to take turns during nights for his sleeping cycle required time and effort to be regulated. Three months into fatherhood and I felt completely drained out both mentally and physically. The love and affections and ‘that joy’- all of these feelings and emotions… There wasn’t any hack available to surface those emotions.
It was a gradual process and my son slowly but surely became the nucleus of our family. He became the focal point of all our actions and thoughts. He kept on surprising us by learning to move sideways, then crawl, sit upright, blabbering Da…Da and within a year started showing super enthusiasm to assess heights before walking on his tiny feet!
My wife and I were fortunate to witness his first independent flight of steps. He was ready to explore the world.
Recently, Vir celebrated his 10th birthday. It has been an exciting journey for us as parents.
I have become more appreciative and immensely grateful to my old man and woman. My heart is full of gratitude. You know why? Cause I know we hear and read people say – ‘Wait till you become a father/mother yourself’, but at that moment, it doesn’t quite skin-in.
The practicalities of it are only realized when we try and stay afloat and the ocean only gets deeper. Those miserable moments of feeding a child who doesn’t want to eat, those potty training frustrations, to see a sick child who can’t tell you where it hurts, the first day at playschool, last day at summer camp… The list is endless!
Parenting is all about understanding when to switch between the role of a teacher to a pupil, critique to a die-hard supporter, pampering to disciplining, holding back to letting go. I understand that children cannot be fooled. If you want your child to read books and not watch TV then you will have to read books and really enjoy reading it in front of him. Your actions and not what you say is what they pick up. I am eager to soak and absorb the experience of parenting, I want to make mistakes and learn from them. I want to grow as a parent, just as Vir has grown from a newborn to an infant, a toddler, preschooler and now a 10-year-old!
I have only realized that the joy that they all talked about, the joy I was looking for was there. It was there all along, in that ocean which was getting deeper with doubts, miseries, frustrations. Plates full of fruits which were finished happily, glasses of milk which were gulped down together, potty training sessions which finally hit the success mark after 6 months of pooping in the diaper and later pants, the smile on his third day to playschool (after endless howling for the first two days, sending me and his mother into a state of depression), that’s where the joy was sitting. Like a mold half-filled with milk, half filled with transfat-laced muffin mix!
That feeling of joy that I was told I must (and will) experience, I knew it all along!
by Shiv Dubey