I was 20 years, with some of my really close friends, partying away, dancing and enjoying myself. It was a usual affair to spend Friday evenings till the place had to close for the night, after which we would drive to some place for dinner and return home only to wake up the next day to party again.
I thought ,there was nothing I would trade for the good times.
I was 25 years, at a bike trip with my gang, at 120kmph on my Yamaha, on a 5 day impromptu trip to the mountains. It was about chilling, relaxing, and just exploring.
I thought there was nothing I would give up for this freedom.
I was 30 years, waiting up in my room, trying to settle down my 2 month old daughter, changing her diaper, holding her milk bottle patiently till she finished it, and trying to soothe her to sleep with a bad version of a lullaby.
Now I know, there is nothing that can compare to the satisfying life I live today. Nothing.
So that's where we all land up. Right?
Not if you really knew who I was first.
Brash. Carefree. Spoilt. Wild – these were the words that would call me before people even knew my name sometimes.
I made fun of people who had kids. Stayed away a mile from anything that related with babies, and worse - I had a bank of horrific stories, of what I would do to kids if they came within my periphery, which I told anyone who knew me.
I had no intention of having any kids of my own. Ever.
My life plan was clear –Business ,Money. Cars. Travel. Bike Trips. Boy Trips. Party. Freedom
And then it happened...
Love. Engagement. Marriage. Ups and Downs. Highs and Lows.
And then they said...
C’mon C’mon. 5 years huh. Now you must plan.
And then she came...
Angel. Beautiful. Princess. True Love.
But along with her came...
Bibs and Cribs
Booties and Charibootis
Mittens with Kittens
Huggies Diapers and Cotton Wipers
Sleepless Nights and Floor Lights
Mosquito Nets and Out go the Pets
Beer bottles made place for milk bottles
Late night parties were replaced by late night crying
Rock music made way for Rock-a-by-baby.
And you know the best part
We loved it.
This new tag team of me and my wife.
This new tag team of me and my wife.
We loved every moment. We cherished every second. Soaked in every learning. Tried our best to be better. There was nothing that made us happier than just seeing her sleep peacefully at the end of the day.
Only to wake up in fifteen minutes and we were at it again.
Today my daughter is on the brink of turning 4 years. I feel a sense of purpose of my life. I know that when people told me good times will come. This is what they meant. I have joined that gang of irritating people who go and tell young couples....Ab settle ho jao. 1+1=3.
So this goes out to those guys, who identify with the 20 year old me.
If you are like- No way. Me? Never! Not so soon. There’s times for that. I have a long way to go. Let me earn first. Let me live my life first. That’s for much later dude. Someday..not today. Career first. Money first. Life First. My freedom. My dreams. My life?
I respect your opinion. I understand your concerns. Been there, done that.
But if you are- in between. Stuck in grey area. Not sure. Need to be sure. Under pressure to plan a family. Read on...
The Top 3 concerns of married men but not yet fathers.
Concern 1: Money
Most common worry and biggest myth- Having a child, needs a lot of money.
So let me answer this in two parts.
Yes a child is an additional expense. It does entail buying a lot of stuff. Finding a new place to stay for some. And breaking a few savings for many.
A lot of your elders will tell you that a kid comes with his own fate and money. And while you are about to think that I am going to rubbish this claim- Sorry, but I won’t. I support it.
It’s true. A child does come with his own fate.
Money won’t come raining down your roof. You won’t suddenly strike a lottery.
But what will come is a huge amount of positivity and power. A change in approach to your work and goals. A new you will emerge. Business will do better, or your job will offer you more.
You will be compelled to discover avenues, where you see none.
You will be forced to look in places you thought were useless.
You will be pushed beyond your limits.
And you will find a way.
The best part is- It won’t be difficult.
Frankly without realising, we spend way too much money on useless things, like expensive clothes, gadgets, night outs and so many unnecessary things. Sometimes we don’t even realise that we spend way money on people around us who are just looking for a “treat”.
With a new child, all this stops.
And you realise that you can channel your resources in more meaningful, planned and better ways.
You even learn to negotiate better in your professional life.
You learn to say No when it needs and Yes when it demands.
And that brings a huge change in your overall financial scenario.
Now to clear the bit that a child is a huge expense.
Many of us don’t even sneeze before paying off a bill at a high end restaurant.
The amount you’d spend on that one night at a bar is sometime equal to a month’s supply of food and medicines of a child. In fact the few initial months, the child has very basic needs, and all we buy for the child is just for our own happiness.
Children don’t care what they wear. Don’t care what they play with. And don’t care what even the size or temperature of the room is. For them it’s all new and all exciting. They will adapt, after all they’ve just been living in a tummy full of water and eating off whatever the mother eats.
The question is will you adapt?
If I had to ask you money for a blanket, some clothes, and 6 small bottles of milk a day would it hurt you financially. I’m sure not.
By the time the child is 3 and you start thinking of school fees, trust me, you’ve would have already made your money to plan much ahead.
So if money is your worry. Case closed.
Let’s move on to some other things.
Concern 2 : Sacrifice
So you don’t want to part with your friends, your social life and your exciting plans.
Let me give this to you slowly.
Sooner or later, all your friends will move on.
Unfortunately -That’s true.
This happening scene is not forever.
People. Times. Life.
It all moves on.
It’s not too far you will be sitting alone on a Saturday night and your friends will be at a family gathering, or have changed residence because of a job, or not into partying anymore.
Let’s just sit at home and chill. How often have you heard that?
If more than a couple of times. Get the picture. Change is coming..fast.
Life won’t wait for you. Make your move.
As far as sacrifice is concerned. Let’s relabel it.
It’s not sacrifice. It’s a blessing.
A child brings with it joy, satisfaction, fulfilment.
A child becomes your best friend.
When a child smiles at you, or just holds your finger. You will know what a real friend is.
Unquestioned. Unspoken. Unconditional.
A real relationship begins here. It’s something you would have shared with no one else.
You know the funniest part now.
Forget sacrificing your social life, you will sacrifice a body part just to see your child smile.
Would a friend do that for you, maybe not. Would you do it for a friend? I guess you’d be a fool to do that.
There is no comparison between what you would be sacrificing and what you would be getting as a father.
Performing the part
So now you thinking, if you do have a child..
Will I be a good father.
Will I understand what to do when they cry?
Will I be capable of handling the responsibilities that come along?
Will I be able to protect my family?
Now don’t feel bad, but frankly the world expects nothing much from you.
Not insulting, but frankly we men, are pretty useless.
This moment was the one that was ignored when they coined the term - weaker sex.
And if women are the weaker sex, then men should be called - the insignificant sex.
So little is our role in being a father, that it can almost be neglected in terms of giving.
But you learn.
It’s like going to school all over again, only difference is you will pick up fast and you will absorb only as much as you want to. The rest will take care of itself.
Holding a baby the right way. Bottle feeding. Changing a diaper. Putting a child to sleep.
These are far easier to learn than changing the tyre of a car.
Even if you fail, the system lets out a cry and you learn quickly the right way.
You will read, listen, watch and get better.
You will want to improve day by day and before you know it, you will be doing your job better than anyone else. In fact you will almost go about saying, that you are a very involved father, and you are far better than the other ones you know.
And to prove it -One day you little angel will come and tell you- Papa you are the best!
That day my friend, you will stand first in class. You will pass with distinction and no one can ever take that away from you. Top of the world.
I hope this closes Concern No. 3 also.
I said I wouldn’t come in the labour room. But I stood there the whole time. I saw my baby covered in blood. I didn’t pass out. I clicked a picture.
I said I won’t be able to stay awake at night. But I wake up at the slightest sound. Now I problem-solve in my sleep.
I said that finances would be a bit of a stretch. But we live life better than before. We party. We shop and we aren’t worried about tomorrow. Because we have each other.
I said I won’t be able to do much, most of it will have to be done by my wife. But I do my little bit, pat myself on the back and am ready for my next task, any time you want.
I stand by my daughter today...
When my little angel wakes up in the morning and looks at me, when the world is still asleep.
When she cries because she doesn’t want to go to school and needs a hug to tell her everything is going to be fine.
When she looks at me longingly because she wants a toy.
When she throws a tantrum and just wants me to hold her and tell her that- she wins, I lose.
When she comes running to the door when I am back from office to hug me.
When she sneaks a smile at me and pretends she is sleeping.
When I am her hero, even when I'm down and out and had a terrible day.
When she wants me to play with her after I'm back from work and have no energy, but yet manage to, but yet put up a show.
When she chooses me over anyone else in the world.
Do you think that even the slightest thought of that party, that bike trip, that social gathering even peeps into my thoughts? Never.
There is no bigger joy. There is no better blessing. There is no higher feeling.
I have changed as a person..for good..forever.
Brash. Carefree. Spoilt. Wild – these are the words people call her even before they know her name.
After all she is her father’s daughter.