This is part of a series of blog posts under the title Fatherhood Diaries, which will be published here every Monday (for the foreseeable future). Enjoy.
Five months into parenthood. I am grateful for a couple of things. First, we now know how to address most of our baby’s needs. It is unlikely that he will be crying his lungs out without us being able to do something about it or at least understand the reasons for his discontent. Second, he is healthy and has started to interact with us. This brings us a totally primitive sense of joy. But we are still taking it one day at the time. Every day he survives is a win.
There is no plan. We have no plan, at least not one we can stick to. Each day is different irrespective of our consistent efforts to adopt a spartan routine that babies supposedly like so much. It is the little boy who dictates whether we will be able to function at work. This depends on his daily aptitude for sleeping. He is also the one determining whether we will be on time to our appointments, which get delayed depending on his appetite and bathroom schedule. Our social commitments are subject to a curfew at about 6:30pm, leaving an hour for his bath and bedtime routine. We get one evening off per week when he stays with my in-laws. During that evening we go out for dinner, which we typically eat hastily, anticipating the few hours of uninterrupted sleep that follow.
I don’t know what’s the new normal. This is deeply upsetting for me as I am one who likes to have structure and schedule in my life. What bothers me is not that we can no longer have long dinners with friends or have drunken nights out. I’m not much of a social animal and, if I’m honest, the baby offers a convenient way out of many social obligations that I would rather avoid. Instead, what bothers me is our inability to make any meaningful plans for the future, either for the short or long term, since we have no idea how our life will look in a year’s or even a month’s time.
The baby is growing and changing by the day. Each morning he has a skill he was lacking the day before. Some days he is a joy to have around, others he is being difficult for no apparent reason. The only constant is how immensely cute he is, but even that will likely change at some point. I guess for now, the new normal is the lack of routine, which is manageable for the moment, but I’m not too sure about the longer-term.
If there’s something that we learnt from all this, is to avoid planning, to accept things as they come, and not make assumptions about the baby’s routine based on his behaviour of the previous few days as there are constant regressions or unaccounted factors. Writing this, I come to realize that I am not sure whether stability is indeed what I am looking for. It would mean that the baby will have outgrown his current phase, for which I am not ready.