Ask a dad who looks into the screen to see his baby the first time over a skype call. Ask a dad who returns home after an exhaustive day of work and driving to see the baby squeal in excitement to see him. Ask a dad whose hands his daughter refuses to part on the first day of the school. They all will tell you that they simply felt that something which they don’t know how to explain. As a matter of fact, the essence of fatherhood lies in many such small things.
As it’s the mother who is always given attention soon after the baby, the silent struggles that a dad undergoes often go unnoticed. And the fact that fathers either do not know to express their emotional struggles or perhaps do not want to, can leave them irritable or in an emotional confinement. Yes, not known to many, Paternal PostPartum Depression (PPPD) does exist!
Of course, I couldn’t disclose my secret fears to her because she’s pregnant. Neither could I to anyone else for I will be looked down upon for the father I was going to be or even for the man I was. Even if I share with someone, I will be counter-attacked, “You are going to be a dad, become responsible.” Thus, while my wife, the family and the extended families celebrated the good news, at a secret corner of my heart, I was afraid if everything is going to be alright.
Starting from the 1st of June until the 18th of June, I am plunging into a bold attempt in bringing to light, the emotions behind being a father. I say bold because I shall leave behind the superior tag of a ‘mother’ to explore the deepest secrets of fatherhood.
I cherish it everyday now as my little girl simply cannot be away from me. I am cooking in the morning hours. She begins with cooing which slowly turns to soft whimpers and then all of a sudden to a loud cry which will intensify to a high-pitch scream. The father tries his luck from toys to acting a clown but she wouldn’t even open her eyes to witness his farce until I take her on my hips when her cry graph falls off to the X-axis from its highest peak in less than a fraction of a second. I turn to her and ask, ” What made you cry like that?” She looks up at my face with a mischievous smile to let me know, “Just for this Amma; to take this place on your hips.” And everything of your being melts!
There have been times when I have had no involvement in my life. During those years when my parents were hunting for a groom for me (you will understand if you’ve been through the arranged marriage galatta in India), I began to watch animation movies, hoping some animation will come into my days. The disconnect between the man of dreams and the men that bharat matrimony displayed was too much to bear. I have gone to the depths of boredom that I explored several philosophical and occult realms of humanity like yoga, spirituality, past lives, healing and energies. (I am glad now that I did them prior to having kids 🙂 ) Like all dejected humans, I was searching for my anchor – according to Thesaurus, an anchor is something that is used to hold another thing securely – and I was searching what would hold me securely with life.
As a first-time mother, I have felt withdrawn from activities which were a part of my pre-mommy life. After a few days of the baby’s coming in, seeing 5 to 10 missed calls notifications every day wasn’t surprising any longer. On most of those days, my phone had to remain in the silence mode else those few hours I had painstakingly tried to put the baby to sleep will be wasted in a few seconds. Well, the baby has slept. Can I call a few people now? Yes, after I have my meal, after I have my bath! What?! The baby is up? But I haven’t even had my meal yet. That’s how the initial days pass without much communication with people dear to us.