The Fatherhood Change

baby photoPhoto by Andrew Mason

It is well documented the changes a woman goes through after childbirth, both mental and physical but there is little written about the effects on the father. Granted the man does not undergo any physical changes but there are certainly changes mentally. There is the whole protective gene that kicks in once there is a baby in the family. Anyone who has driven a car with a crying baby knows that there is an urge to drive faster, to get to where you are going in order to look after the baby. It isn’t a physical thing, nor is it an acknowledgeable thought, rather a feeling of urgency. There is also the amazingly calm sensation of the father lying on a sofa with his baby lying on him sleeping. Possibly one of the greatest feelings in the world.

Another change, and one that was quite unexpected for me was how some movies affected me. I am not talking about the first five minutes of Finding Nemo or Up (seems to be a trend don’t you think) nor movies that are designed to affect you emotionally. It could be any movie at all, the only common denominator is that there features a child who is either in danger or who is lost, or one who is crying, sad, or experiencing the loss of a parent. To show how random this effect could be, even a moderately watchable movie such as Battle: Los Angeles makes me want to hold my children and tell them that I love them.

Why did such a ‘classic’ action movie such as this move me? There are scenes where a child loses his father (off topic but played by the under-rated Michael Pena) and who is obviously sad. It was unexpected how the feeling sneaked up on me, but yet it kicked in quickly once the aforementioned scenario occurred. Even half hour after watching the movie the emotion is still there, lingering in my gut. I know that I have not re-watched certain movies because of this feeling. I am not afraid of my emotional side (I am a modern man after all) but I actively choose to avoid feeling this way.

Part of me believes that this is part and parcel of being bi-polar, that I am more emotionally susceptible to this sort of influence but the majority of my confused brain knows that it is because of fatherhood. There was never a moment before the birth of my first child (a masculine child) where scenes featuring a child moved me. Maybe it was a part of my soul that was lying dormant until activated by the sleepless nights, smell of soiled diapers and crying until the baby gets what it wants, but maybe it is just part of being a father, the part that makes you take the kid(s) for a sneaky ice cream while the mother is shopping or working. The part that makes you sit on a child’s bed at bedtime and talk about whatever the child wants until their eyes begin to droop.

Becoming a parent is very similar to the Matrix, no matter how much someone tries, you cannot be told what the Matrix (parenting) is. You have to see it for yourself. At least Keane Reeves is going to be around!

Photo by Andrew Mason

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