I don’t know of a time when I felt more needed to be OK than now.
After all, men are supposed to be OK, aren’t they? And what do I have to complain about? It’s my partner who risked and sacrificed so much of herself. It’s my partner who bears the demands of breastfeeding and sleeplessness.
She can be not OK.
We’re supposed to be there at night, picking up the pieces, calmly getting our screaming child to bed while our partner catches some sleep, and then be OK in the morning to deal with our toddler, go to work, come back early, and hold it all together again.
At least part of me feels like.
And that part is afraid of not being OK, fears getting in touch with it at all, let alone tell others. So, visitors will ask how mum is doing and I think they mean it and she has free licence to bare all. They ask me how I’m doing and I think they don’t really mean it, or that it doesn’t matter, or that I should only share a little of the trials as they won’t be able to bear anything more. I think my partner can share our experiences with other mums (or to terrify mums to be), but could I?
Yet, I am increasingly seeing how what is not spoken about, often because of fear of what it will bring up, is the very thing that causes us harm. However commonplace the experience, the unspoken trips and ties us up. I suspect being a dad of a newborn is one such normal, everyday yet oft-unspoken experience, had by many across the world. And so, I want to share my experiences.
I do, of course, share with the utmost respect for my partner and all that she is at this time.
But I also share with commitment - to myself more than anything else - to try to get in touch with what’s really going on and to try to name it. I want to say (again, to myself as much as anybody else) that it does matter and that I don’t have to be OK.