5 Tips For First Time Fathers

So I became a step dad to Mrs OMG’S two boys in August 2007. Then a Dad to a son of my own in Nov 2008.

Since then we’ve added Little Miss OMG and Baba 3.0 is due in 8 weeks. Now I’m no parenting expert, truth be told you’re better of doing the opposite of what I do in most situations.

I do have plenty of experience however so I’m going to impart my top tips for new Dad’s here.

Number One

If you anticipate being asked to do something go to the toilet. This is your new safe place. If you do this right it won’t be long till you hear shouts of.

“Where’s your father?”

“Probably in the toilet, he’s always in the toilet”

Number Two

Your are now the waste disposal unit for the household. You don’t even need to bother making a dinner for yourself.

  1. You won’t have time to eat it whilst it’s hot anyway. Between cutting meat for the kids. Wiping up spills and the 400 other things that you end up doing, whilst everyone else eats.
  2. The kids will leave so much food on their plates you’ve a dinners worth between them all.

Number Three

You now own nothing. Everything you own will be commandeered by the little people you helped create.

Games console – gone are the days of first person shooters and FIFA with your mates. Instead it’s Banjo Kazooie and You Tube.

You won’t be able to get your phone out to check Twitter or Instagram as there will be shouts of Let me See. Unless you’ve perfected Number One in which case loo time is also phone time.

Number Four

You will never win the who had less sleep argument.

Even if you are the one who was up all night with the teething baby your partner still got less sleep than you.

The same goes for nappy changes, housework etc.

It’s easier to concede defeat. Though if you’ve mastered Number One you’ll have anticipated the argument and will be safely in the loo.

Number Five

Get a coffee loyalty card from every shop and garage that does one.

Coffee is your new best friend.

The temptation will be there to have a few drinks when the nippers go to sleep. Resist the urge. Kids have an inbuilt hangover detector and will be twice as bad if they sense you’ve had a few the night before.

Coffee, coffee and more coffee is the new normal.

Any chance you get to top up those caffeine levels take. Run out of milk, grab a coffee as well. Stop for petrol, grab a coffee. Have to stop for the little one to use the loo, grab a coffee.

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Stranger Danger

They say having children alters your perspective on things. That’s certainly true for some things.

Since having a daughter I’ve become a lot more attuned to the gender gap. I’m also increasingly aware of the need to address climate change. My frankly abhorrent attitude as a younger childless man of, I won’t be here so who cares has long been abandoned.

Missing Person Poster

In some areas though I’ve not changed at all and frankly in one particular area I’m a bit surprised.

Fear of Abduction

As a child I felt my parents were over protective. I wasn’t allowed to the play park, because it was situated 15 yards past the speed bump that marked the distance I could ride my bike unaccompanied.

I can only ever remember being sent to the shops alone by my parents once until I was well into my teens. Though the fact I managed to lose the tenner I’d been given to buy bread with might have had more influence in this, than any fear I’d be abducted did.

My Sister and I were well aware of stranger danger. Not to accept sweets or get into cars with someone we didn’t know. Although our lives were so well controlled there weren’t many times those situations could arise.

Still I felt, like many kids do, that it would never happen to me. Upon doing some research I’ve found that I’m actually not alone. In fact a large proportion of the population also believe this. It’s called Optimism Bias, and occurs in any manner of situations. From being involved in a car accident to being trapped in a burning building.

It’s why so many of us don’t heed the warnings about sleeping with the doors closed. Running dishwashers and washing machines at night or when no one is home!

Obviously there are some who don’t believe this. My good friend Julie actually tweeted today about how her eldest won’t go to play with his friends for fear something will happen.

I Never Worry Something Has Happened To Them!

I’ve read hundreds of crime novels, watched just as many movies and TV shows in which children are abducted and or murdered. Just this evening I watched an episode of one such crime drama.

It centered around an abduction case that was five years old. Evidence of the missing girl had surfaced. Brilliantly scripted and acted, I was thoroughly engrossed and at the climactic finale felt my heart beating faster and found myself holding my breath. Until the girl was found safe and well.

Still every time the boys leave the house I never worry that something will happen to them. Perhaps when Little Miss OMG is old enough to go off without me by her side I might worry about her.

I don’t think I will though. There are many times the boys have gone off and when I ring their phones to see where they are, or tell them it’s time to come home. If they don’t answer, my initial response is “Little feckers are ignoring me” not “Something has happened to them!”

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had heart in my mouth moments. A young Buddy went missing in a shopping centre in Limerick once. Thankfully after 20 heart stopping minutes he was found safe and well in a shop playing with toys!

Looking into the statistics it would appear that even though child kidnappings generate headlines. They aren’t all that common.

According to a Home Office report in 2004, there were 798 child kidnapping reports, in England and Wales. Of those reports 447 involved a stranger. 375 of those reports were of an attempted kidnapping, meaning there were 72 successful abductions.

It Was Meant To Be

I’ve never been one to believe in fate or any of the other multitude of beliefs that state our life is mapped out for us.

I get the feeling every now and then though that maybe some things are meant to be.

Take for example Baba 3.0 due in July. You don’t need to hear the details of the conception save to say there was a contraceptive failure. When I say failure what I actually mean is. Due to being told that Mrs OMG’s ovaries were past their best and conceiving would be practically impossible none was used and the withdrawal method only works if you actually withdraw.

Having had the “Shall we have one last child” conversation a few times since Little Miss OMG was born. Each time one of us saying “No! We’ve more than enough with the four we have!”

We made the decision for her to take The Morning After pill. So with promises of pancakes from McDonalds for breakfast, to sweeten the fact we were dragging the kids to town on a Sunday morning. We headed to Boots.

A few minutes in the booth answering medical questions and she was duly given the pill and off we went about our lives.

Her periods aren’t what you would call regular so when she was late, we didn’t really think much of it.

In fact I laughed and said “You can’t be pregnant. You’re dodgy ovaries and the morning after pill. Not a hope”

Eventually after a few more days and no period, she sent instructed me to check Dr Google to check the effectiveness of the Morning After Pill.

It turns out that if a fertilised egg has already attached itself to the lining of the womb then the Morning After Pill might not work.

This news had me being despatched to the chemist for a pregnancy test.

I’m a man and there are 30,000 different kits. So after the obligatory phone call to check which one was needed. I paid and went home.

30 secs later she emerged from the toilet and showed me the test. As they can’t all follow a standard format I had to seek clarification.

“I’m pregnant!”

So there you have it perhaps some things really are meant to be.

That Time I Missed My Son’s Birth

It seems fitting to share Buddy’s Birth Story today. After all it’s the day I became a Dad. I’d been a father to Mrs OMG’s two boys for over a year since I’d met her, but it’s completely different when you have you own flesh and blood.

I awoke about 8.30am alone in the bed. I checked the en-suite, no one there. Off downstairs I went. I found Mrs OMG in the kitchen, sitting at the table not looking too healthy. 

“Are You OK?” I asked. 

“Not really, I’ve been up for hours!” 

“Why didn’t you wake me?” I asked. 

“I tried! You told me to take a painkiller!” 

I’m a bit slow at reading people, but even I could tell she wasn’t best pleased. “Shall I ring the out of hours Doctor?”

“Go on its probably just a kidney infection.”

My army cadet (boy scouts but in khaki and with guns) training kicked in. I got the boys in the car, the bag for the hospital and grabbed my mobile to ring The Outlaw ( mother in law) Mrs OMG was shaving her legs! Yes, guys, that is what a pregnant woman thinks about if there’s a chance she’s in labour. The Dr and midwives are going to be looking at my hairy legs. Thank god she didn’t want to shave her Fu Fu or Buddy would’ve been born on the bathroom floor!

The out of hours Doctor informed us it was not a kidney infection, but labour!

Off to The Outlaws. The girlfriend wanted a cup of tea! Thankfully her mother told her to go.

Off we went to Ballinasloe. Forty minutes down back roads. Not a problem I was driving my Chevrolet Kalos. In bright orange. A sardine can on wheels and probably weighed as much. It was the coldest, frostiest day of the year so far. The frost wasan inch thick on the ground, and as you’d expect from a sardine tin, suspension wasn’t the best. Theroads were bumpy, full of potholes and like glass.

No expert, being my first. But I could tell the winces from Mrs OMG were not at my driving for once, but contractions.

I could tell they were five minutes apart and knew we still had 25 minutes to go. I started to get worried now! Visions of the baby arriving on the backseats of my new car flashed before me! We arrived at Shannonbridge, only for the lights to turn red on the single lane bridge just as a big contraction hit.

Oh shit! I thought. I can’t deliver a baby! Thankfully the baby didn’t arrive and we made it to the hospital. I dropped Mrs OMG at the doors and said “You go up. I’ll park the car and check you in.”

She wasn’t too keen on this idea. Probably due to the builders working and her red and black cow print fleece pyjamas.

Out she got and waddled off to maternity. I parked up, checked her in and went up to join her.

She was on her own on the bed. Before I could speak the midwife came in and said: “We’ll check you out and see what’s happening”. I sat down and started to read the paper. As we still haven’t decided on names I looked at the horse racing to see if any of them had nice names. I got a bit distracted and started looking at the form and wondering if I’d have time to go to bookies. “You can stand beside your partner!” A stern voice said.
I put down the paper and went to her side.

My preparation kicked in. I urged her to do her breathing. (I know this from movies) Buddy was facing the wrong way, which involved turning him. I don’t know how this was accomplished but it wasn’t a pain-free experience. I know, as she nearly broke my knuckles squeezing my hand, and kicked the midwife in the face at one point. She claims to this day it was an “accident”.

This accomplished. The process of delivering the baby began in earnest. I did what a man is supposed to do in these situations. Offered encouragement and kept telling her to take the gas. For some reason, she didn’t see this as helping and cursed at me. “Hormones!” I said to myself!

The midwife then announced “one more push” Good news I thought. Mrs OMG didn’t agree “You said that last time!!” She growled through clenched teeth.
Push over, the midwife asked if she wanted to feel the baby’s head as it was out. “No” was the curt response. Curiosity got the better me and I took a peak. Here is where it started to go a little bit wrong.

Just after this Mrs. OMG took a seizure. One minute there were three of us in the tiny delivery room. Then suddenly, like Ninjas, 20 more appeared. (Maybe an exaggeration but a few more than there were.) Suction pumps were mentioned. The consultant was there. I was like a schoolboy on the first day of school. Bewildered, terrified, lost all at once.

Mrs OMG came round. The consultant advised them all that she was able to deliver buddy vaginally. Someone, I’m not sure who said. “He’s going to faint. Get him a seat!”

“I need some air I said. I didn’t know why, but they gave me a cardboard tray. Fairly soon I knew. As I puked into it. Before I knew it I was in the hallway and being pointed to the bathroom. A quick chat on the big white telephone, a rinse with water and I was good to go again. On the way back to the delivery room I passed a nurse holding a blue baby, like a little smurf, just missing the hat.

I’m sure I was only in there for seconds. When I got back to the room though only Mrs OMG was in there, with an empty cot. “Where’s the baby?” I asked in panic
“In the cot She replied.

Her speech was slurred and the pupils dilated. They’d given her Valium. Seconds later a nurse came in with the blue baby in her arms. Poor Buddy had shot out so quick he’d gone into shock, I think I was too. A few minutes under the heat lamp and he was good to go.

first childs birth

“Here’s your son.” She said and put him in the cot. A few minutes later she came back with a bottle and told me I could feed him. Due to being high as a kite on the Valium it wasn’t safe for Mrs OMG to hold him.

I gingerly took my son in my arms and gave him his bottle. At that moment I knew what real love was. One for this new little helpless child, looking at me and wanting me to hold and feed and care for. Two for Mrs OMG who had gone through so much to give me this perfect little gift. To this day she says I missed my first child’s birth, I maintain I was there, I did see his head coming out after all. 

A Good Job

Growing up in the You Tube generation it’s easy for kids today to notice the material things wealth affords you.

Little Buddy was no exception. One day whilst playing with his toy cars he informed me he wanted to own a Lamborghini when he grew up. Emissions and environmental concerns weren’t at the forefront of thinking back then.

Well you’d better study hard in school so you can get a good job.

What is a “good” job?

Sitting here now some 6 years later, and having uttered that phrase a million times. I wonder what is a “Good job”?

Shortly after my adopted parents had returned to the States I secured myself a part time job as a barman in the Jack Russell public house.

Rather than being pleased at my efforts to support myself with gainful employment. My mother told me “Professional people don’t hang around in bars!”

Now let’s face it even in the most luxurious hotel bar with the most generous tippers for customers you’re not going to own a Lamborghini on the salary a barman makes. But does that make it a “bad” job?

In order for the world to work we require a whole plethora of workers. In a massive variety of jobs. From cooks to cleaners, Airport staff to Architects. Maids to medics.

Are we to assume that if we don’t achieve getting a good job we are a failure? Another of my early jobs was laying ducting for fibre optic cables.

I was paid nearly £6 an hour and worked a 60/70 hour week. Not bad wages for a 19 year old. Pretty sure this wasn’t a “Good job” in my mother’s eyes, even though the pay was excellent.

Education

Getting an education was something, I was regularly reminded I had to do to “Get a good job” What this good job at the end of the rainbow was. I was never told.

Now admittedly my parents did everything they could to ensure I got this foothold on the path to a good job. I was enrolled in a single sex private school. From year 1 we learnt Latin!

Due to some incompatibility issues I didn’t complete my secondary education here. It seems that not having rich parents, and being the boy wearing uniform bought at the school used sale singles you out for bullying. Paired with my phycological issues from my abandonment and adoption it wasn’t really a match made in heaven and, before official channels were needed I was removed from the school, by mutual consent.

I did complete my GCSE’s at the second time of asking and went on to do a BTEC in Business Studies. University was the next step on the ladder to a good job.

Having no idea what I wanted to do as a career I opted for American Studies. Mainly because it involved a period of study at an American College. I arrived in Woolwich and collected my Grant cheque. I then strolled back to the Halls of Residence and handed it over to pay for my accommodation.

Imagine my surprise when I was handed the jaw droppingly huge amount of £3.45 back. I hadn’t even bought a pen or notebook!

Whilst everyone else was enjoying Freshers week I was busy visiting every bar and restaurant looking for part time work. Pretty soon I realised this wasn’t going to be a lifestyle conducive to studying and passing a degree. Particularly in a subject, I’d discovered, had some modules that were going to bore the pants off me.

I admitted defeat, rang my old boss and HR departments and one week later was back at the M40 services working in Sbarro. What was the point of struggling for four years and getting into serious debt to finish with a lower grade than I could achieve.

Feelings of Failure

Humans are complex. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. My adoptive mother is the eldest of three girls, and, the only one to go to college. She’s also the worst off financially.

That was the first discrepancy in the whole. Going to college will get you a good job thesis.

Then there is the whole idea that if you tell someone, something often enough and it doesn’t happen. How do they react to that?

I was constantly told I was clever. I could do anything I wanted. The problem was I didn’t know what I wanted. Without this there is no motivation to accomplish anything.

We judge people by their job. It’s one of the first questions we ask people who we meet for the first time.

What do you do for work?

Every phone call and visit to the States to visit my parents would result in the same question.

I always dreaded this question. Felt ashamed of the job I did. I loved customer service and was bloody good at it. The wages weren’t the best and there were career opportunities, but I never had the desire to manage people. I enjoyed dealing with the customers.

It caused me great conflict though. I had enough money to do the things I wanted to do. Holidays, pay the rent, games consoles etc. Yet I had this sense of under achievement. That I’d wasted my life.

That pressure to get a “good” job was there constantly.

The Future

I will still occasionally trot out the “You have to study, if you want a good job” line. Or change it slightly like when Little Miss OMG announced she wanted to drive a Tesla when she grew up. To “You’ll need a good job of you want to drive a Tesla Baby”

I hate the way society has become even more materialistic over the last few years. Companies are constantly selling us the dream that owning this will make them happy, get us the drop dead gorgeous partner etc etc.

It won’t though. Unless we have a desire to do a certain thing. Driven by something other than money, we won’t be happy. We might have the big house, the fancy car and the exotic holidays. Provided we are doing something we enjoy and warning enough to meet our needs and some wants we should be OK.

I asked on my Insta Stories what people wanted for their kids. The most popular answer was “Happiness”

To this end I try to limit my use of the “good job” phrase to rare uses. I do feel our education system needs an overhaul. It’s centered around learning to pass tests to go on to college to then get a good job.

I’d much rather my kids were helped to find something that they enjoyed enough to do every day for a living. That they were taught kindness and compassion over the attainment of wealth. Above all they should be made to feel proud of whatever they choose to do, for we are all different and no one is any less of a person because they do one job over another.