I was recently asked to write a post for first-time dads, and as neither a dad nor a first timer, I felt unqualified. So I asked my male friends for their advice (that article to follow soon on the Mamadoo blog) and one response was so funny and heartfelt I asked if he wanted to write a guest post for Relentless.
Failure IS an Option: by Glenn Dungate
I can remember clearly the emotion and excitement that I felt as I walked through the sliding glass automatic doors of the hospital the day after Maisie was born. I had gone home the night previous and fallen asleep strangely free of burden and worry and, instead, filled with pride in the strength of my wife and elation for our “bundle of joy”. The need to clean the living hell out of our townhouse and watch as much Foxtel as possible was also strangely thrown into the mix.
I have never felt peace and excitement like I did in those first few days. Overjoyed that I had a daughter. Overwhelmed that I had seen things happening between my wife’s legs that I was sure would scar me for the rest of my life and euphoric that two was now three. A family. My family. Our family.
Then she came home. Free from the support of Midwives and Doctors, Maisie was now alone with us. I laid her down on a play mat and stared at her. What was going to happen now ? How was “it” going to happen and what was “it” exactly ?
For me “it” was the fear of failure.
I failed at three months after I dropped her on her head onto the tiled kitchen floor. This happened on the first day that my wife had left me alone with her. I was in tears and a major panic as I called my wife, crying down the phone that a lump was appearing on her head. Cradling her as her cries subsided we hopped into my bed and I tried to comfort her. She started falling asleep. I panicked again. Sleep after head trauma equals concussion. I tried to keep her awake, she didn’t like that. Maybe because it was her nap time and her dad was red eyed and bouncing her up and down singing “Wakey wakey Maisie” over and over and over again.
I failed when she was a toddler and I grabbed her arm in anger. She wasn’t listening, it was bath time and she had better things to do. She was in a typical Maisie mood. I grabbed her right arm as I leaned down to try and reason through clenched teeth and she immediately burst into tears saying “You hurt my arm”. I was heartbroken. I have always felt that hitting a child in punishment is beyond wrong. The thought that inflicting pain in the belief that it will create reason and understanding is brain dead and pathetic. Anyone with intelligence knows that there are times that you cannot reason with them. There are times that you cannot make them understand. There are times that you have to think happy thoughts and take deep yoga like breathes. This was one of those times. And yet, I had just hurt her in my attempts to reason with her. More tears from me and a major apology followed.
Then my wife became pregnant. Euphoria soon turned to unbearable sadness when at 12 weeks we had to terminate the pregnancy. The pride in the mental and physical strength of my wife that I had felt with the birth of our first child returned, though in completely different circumstances. I wanted to take all her pain. I wanted to hold her and not let go. Even though it was nature and even though there was nothing we could have done……. I felt I had uncontrollably failed.
In the months and years that have followed I have experienced the Jane Austin-like highs of love, pride and awe along with the Shakespearean-like battles of sadness, fear, anger and rage that only a child with the combined DNA of two crazies like us can produce.
Despite my fears I have succeeded many more times than I have either truly or falsely failed. Maisie is now 5 and the “it” has become the realisation that parenting is a glorious burden. Embrace it and every piece of luggage that goes with it. If you are true to yourself and more importantly to the human in your care, you can’t fail.