Tony blog post #6- 7.04.13
Finding out we were pregnant was one of the happiest days of my life. I have worked with children and acted like a child for the past 10 and 28 years respectively. I have always loved children and having children of my own is a lifelong dream. Mind you in my reckless younger days I didn’t always think I’d live past 23 so life has been great so far! The past few months have given me time to think about what it takes to be a father and to prepare for parenthood.
The first question most people ask when the pee stick comes back positive is “OMG, am I ready?” For Alana and I this wasn’t so hard. We had just been on our honeymoon and we have both reached stages in our life where we feel comfortable in becoming parents and raising a few children. Having ticked off marriage, travel and our degrees in the past few years made it easy to look towards starting a family. This is of course not everyone’s path but when I was younger I felt that parenthood was a trap and potentially ‘game over’ for young people. My sister changed all my perceptions of parenthood when she and her partner become young parents. She proved that the only limitations of parenthood are the ones you create and accept yourself. Her family enjoy awesome trips away together and live life to the fullest.
My attitudes towards parenthood have certainly changed over the past ten years. I often ask myself; “who am i?” and “who do I want to be?” These questions have lead me in different directions in my life so far and have included answers such as ‘party boy’, ‘A grade surfboat rower’, ‘early childhood teacher’, ‘personal trainer’ and recently, ‘husband and father’. I see some of these stages as being part of my maturing as a person (not totally of course but I have made it this far!). I was interested to learn at university that the hormonal changes that occur from puberty do not finish until into your mid-20s and that testosterone has a huge influence in the development of our brain. Risk-taking behaviours and ‘attitude’ have always been seen as typical male teenage and young adult attributes but brain research supports these observations and may help to explain why they occur and why they are important. Male toddlers experience a similar hormonal process according to recent brain research.
Certainly for me by the time I reached 25 things just started to click. I was finally ready to commit to some longer term plans and ideas for my future. Until then I had been mostly cruising and not taking anything too seriously. In one amazing month I committed to finish my teaching degree at University of New England, completed the renovation of my first property in a small town called Kentucky and started my relationship with Alana. The power of decisions and timing!
This process has led me to where I am today. The next question of course is “how do you prepare for parenthood?” I’m sure everyone has an opinion on this! I think for each person the process is fairly individual and it affects people in different ways. Personally I am surprised by how much time you actually have to prepare yourself mentally and physically. Amazingly it’s about 9 months! Fancy that! Although not all people have that amount of time to prepare, just ask my friend at work who found out at 22 weeks she was pregnant! Originally I couldn’t wait and I kept asking baby and Alana to hurry up. We have had some changes along the way and when we found out that our baby will be coming early I had to revise my thought process (I am a firm believer that “thoughts become things”!) and we are now aiming for a happy and healthy baby in its own time!
Alana and I have prepared by talking to others and sharing experiences with friends and family (and my childcare community and children of course). This has brought me closer together with my family and gives us time to appreciate the important and special things in life. It seems we will have no shortage of ‘childcare’ options with both families keen to meet our baby very soon!
Processes such as cleaning out our spare room, selling items, setting up baby furniture and attending anti-natal clinics have all helped us to prepare mentally and physically for the arrival of our baby.
We have also been conscious of enjoying the moment and this weekend we had some fun together at my parent’s rural property west of Beechwood, NSW. I surprised Alana and we headed back to nature to enjoy the quiet surrounds of the amazing Hastings Valley. Yesterday we had fun in the sun as Alana got her belly out and I set my artistic talents on her beautiful bump! Baby’s first face painting?? Let me know what you think!!
For those of you out there going on similar processes of parenthood, fatherhood and those who feel you are a long way from it please check out these hilarious ways to prepare for parenthood! (from http://www.thelaboroflove.com/forum/nick/parenthood.html)
Are You Ready for Parenthood?
Preparation for parenthood is not just a matter of reading books and decorating the nursery. Here are 12 simple tests for expectant parents to take to prepare themselves for the real life experience of being a mother or father.
1. Women: to prepare for maternity, put on a dressing gown and stick a beanbag chair down the front. Leave it there for 9 months. After 9 months, remove 10% of the beans. Men: to prepare for paternity, go to the local drugstore, tip the contents of your wallet on the counter, and tell the pharmacist to help himself. Then go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office. Go home. Pick up the paper and read it for the last time.
2. Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels, and how they have allowed their children to run riot. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child’s sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior. Enjoy it – it’s the last time in your life that you will have all of the answers.
3. To discover how the nights feel, walk around the living room from 5pm till 10pm carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds. At 10pm put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep. Get up at 12am and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until lam. Put the alarm on for 3am. As you can’t go back to sleep, get up at 2am and make a drink. Go to bed at 2:45am. Get up again at 3am when the alarm goes off. Sing songs in the dark till 4am. Put the alarm on for Sam. Get up. Make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.
4. Can you stand the mess children make? To find out, smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains. Hide a fish stick behind the stereo and leave it there all summer. Stick your fingers in the flower beds then rub them on the clean walls. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?
5. Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems: first buy an octopus and a string bag. Attempt to put the octopus into the string bag so that none of the arms hang out. Time allowed for this – all morning.
6. Take an egg carton. Using a pair of scissors and a can of paint, turn it into an alligator. Now take a toilet paper tube. Using only scotch tape and a piece of foil, turn it into a Christmas tree. Last, take a milk container, a ping pong ball, and an empty packet of CoCoPuffs and make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower. Congratulations, you have just qualified for a place on the play group committee.
7. Forget the Miata and buy the mini-van. And don’t think you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don’t look like that. Buy a chocolate ice cream bar and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Get a quarter. Stick it in the cassette player. Take a family-size bag of chocolate cookies. Mash them down the back seats. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There! Perfect!
8. Get ready to go out. Wait outside the toilet for half an hour. Go out the front door. Come in again. Go out. Come back in. Go out again. Walk down the front path. Walk back up it again. Walk down it again. Walk very slowly down the road for 5 minutes. Stop to inspect minutely every cigarette butt, piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue, and dead insect along the way. Retrace your steps. Scream that you’ve had as much as you can stand until all of the neighbors come out and stare at you. Give up and go back in the house. You are now just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.
9. Always repeat everything you say at least five times.
10. Go to your local supermarket. Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a pre-school child. A fully grown goat is excellent. If you intent to have more than one child, take more than one goat. Buy your weeks groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goats eat or destroy. Until you can easily accomplish this DO NOT even contemplate having children.
11. Hollow out a melon. Make a small hole in the side. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side. Now get a bowl of soggy Froot Loops and attempt to spoon it into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane. Continue until half of the Froot Loops are gone. Tip the rest into your lap, making sure that a lot of it falls on the floor. You are now ready to feed a 12 month old child.
12. Learn the names of every character from Barney and Friends, Sesame Street, and Power Rangers. When you find yourself singing, “I love you, you love me” at work, now!, you finally qualify as a parent.
Three weeks to go until our baby arrives and we are grateful to all our friends and family for their support. Honestly, this baby could become a successful project manager, already it is under time and budget! Well done baby.
Thankyou also to everyone who has been following my blog and giving us feedback. Please share any funny early childhood or parenting links on my blog or facebook page that is now up and running!
Next week I will be posting about getting back to nature in early childhood (and my experience at nature preschools in Scandinavia last year!) and rough and tumble play at preschool!
Carol Sigelman & Elizabeth Rider. 2009. Life-Span Human Development. 6th Edition. Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Belmont, USA
PS. It would be crazy not to acknowledge my Jack russel terrier called ‘Muscles’ who has also helped me prepare for parenthood. He is a champion little dog and lifelong mate. I wonder how he will adjust to a baby in the house!!