Lessons I Learnt After 2 years of Fatherhood

I don't normally write about baby stuffs. At this moment, my little daughter is falling asleep on my chest, chin resting on my left shoulder, pinning me down flat on the bed in the process. She is clinging to me so hard that I can feel her heartbeat against mine and may be already asleep by now. I don't want to disrupt her until she falls into deep slumber, so it seems like I will have time to spare until I can flip her over to sleep on her mattress. Jen handed me my laptop earlier. Positioned on my thighs in a sit up position, there lies me inspired to do this writing this while I wait.

A few weeks ago, my wife Jen showed me a video clip of me giving the 1 day old Albany her first bath in the hospital under the watchful eye of the midwife. She was such a tiny bundle then, smaller than a turkey roast but wow she could really cry. In a few days time, Albany will turn 2 years old. Experienced parents reading this will find it hard to resist a cackle. The worst is just the beginning, yes I know. Maybe it will be but considering I had never thought of being a parent and knew nuts about parenting, the early days of parenting were a tad more nightmarish for me than most fathers would be prepared for. But I arrived. And I will simply keep going and take things as they come. That is in fact, the universal rule of parenting because you can never be prepared enough for what's going to come your way.

I'll like to share some observations of mine during my first 2 years of fatherhood. They aren't anything out of the blue and I believe many of you will resonate with them. Nonetheless I hope you'll find them interesting.

#1 - Give your baby a toy and she plays with the box

Albany taught me that babies see the world very differently as adults. She plays with whatever that intrigue her, though the object may be extremely plain an boring to an adult. To adults, that may be amusing because we feel the child does not seem to understand value but if we stop to think about it, we are wrong. They understand intrinsic value according to their true interest, not the price tag behind it. That gave me a few moments to think over the true meaning of rationality. How often have we consume a product or went for a trip because it was marketed over what is good for ourselves or what we want for our lives? 

#2 - A father has a role to play

Except for breastfeeding, there isn't any task a mother does naturally better than a father. I started my first week of parenthood jumping out of bed to pick up Albany when she cried at night, burped her after her feed, cleaned her, wrapped her, soothed her to sleep while Jen recovered from her Caesarean section wounds. Jen looked clumsy in her baby handling by the end of the week. After I returned to work, she gradually became a pro at taking care of the baby's needs. These are all about practicing, hardly about natural instincts.

#3 - Rapport is built over time

Like building a great rapport with a partner in a Badminton doubles or with team mates in the soccer team, it requires a big investment of time to build a rapport with your child. It is frivolous to believe it is about telepathy - either you have it or you don't. It is clear to me there is a correlation between how much time I spent interacting with Albany and how she reacts towards me. I am fully affirmed if I had my taxing work schedule back in Singapore, my relationship with Albany would be significantly worse off.

#4 - Never underestimate a woman

It was said that men are naturally attracted women with physical attributes and character traits that suggest they would make good mating partners for them. Besides good sex and procreation, that includes maternal qualities such as the ability to cook, right down to the most subtle details such as a nice voice. Jen was a tomboy when I met her. It was unimaginable of her being a mother, especially a mother of my child. When we moved to Perth when she was 5 months pregnant, she couldn't even fry an egg properly and she did no housework in her household before we got married. But she turned out to be a terrific mother and wife I am very proud of. I am impressed by her willingness to learn by reading (she used to hate reading) and trying things out to improve herself. The lesson here is that we should not judge an egg by it's shell. That may be an egg of a dragon.

#5 - A child doesn't discriminate

A young toddler doesn't know the rights and the wrongs. The parents define them. And we define them according to our life experiences, including our preferences and prejudices. It was interesting to observe the parents around me, including my own, instilled the "right values" into their children.

I used to remember others parents in my hometown warning us not to play with "Ma lai jü" and "Gek leng guai". I'll leave these untranslated for the good of everybody. Other than that, I had overheard parents telling their kids not to hang out with the bigger kids because they were rough, children from poor families because they were "dirty" and nonsensical stuffs like that, you get the drift. Meanwhile, children without preconceived ideas simply mix with one another in a world without strangers and have fun. I believe we should leave our kids alone to figure out what they believe in and leave them out our racial discrimination, religious shit and OCD traits. My own bad behaviors are my own makings and not inherited. I grew up to be grateful to my parents for that. No doubt it is a parent's responsibility to teach good moral values but we have to define them very carefully.

#6 - You are everything to your baby

A baby is selfish. She does not care whether you are drop dead exhausted, frustrated or even tired of living. She does not know societal rules and does not understand the need to be tactful or politically correct. It is pointless to vent your frustrations on a baby on a totally different wavelength. Sometimes, parents forget a fact that without our babies, we will not die but without us our babies will. So a baby will do her utmost best to get everything she wants, often to an overbearing level but parents need not tear their hair out if we remind ourselves we are everything to them. For disciplinary purposes, parents would be selective in giving in to demands but we need not to be emotionally distraught over the baby's reactions.

#7 - A child is an enormous force

I can never understand the impact of a child to my marriage prior of being a parent. I will go as far as saying a child can make or break a marriage. It is certainly an experience to bring a marriage to another level without a parallel substitute. You'll learn a great deal about your partner that you never knew but there is no guarantees you'll be opening a chest of rainbows, a Pandora box or the higher likelihood of both. In any case, a child brings forth everything you can see about your partner, like a mirror of truth. Another impact of this force has a tendency to conjure unprecedented motivation to make life changing decisions or kick habits, even addiction. 

#8 - A child is a teacher

I'll sum up my experience so far, "You learn for them, you learn with them, you learn from them." There is so much to learn if we put ourselves into the eyes of a child. It teaches us humility all over again, to put ourselves in their shoes on a daily basis. That routine may help us do the same for the people we interact with outside the family. Learning all over again also updates us of our expired knowledge or misconceptions of the world, a necessity at the same time to keep ourselves relevant to our kids as they grow up.

#9 - A child loves life

For the past weekends, I had been awaken by a giggling Albany delighted to have discovered her sleeping father. Before long, she would be dancing and hopping on my bed while Jen prepared breakfast outside. She would then begin to climb all over my body and sat down heavily with her fleshy butt to get me wincing in mock pain before breaking out in gleeful chuckles. Other times, she would be doing ground somersaults on her bed laughing. I wish I can wake up being happy like that on a Monday morning but thoughts of Albany in my mind when I drive to and fro work certainty put a smile on my face. Her love of life is contagious. 

#10 - A baby is a bundle of joy

What's so fun about a reddish crying lump of wriggling flesh? I felt genuinely happy for my siblings, relatives and friends when they celebrated their newborns in the past but I could never fully understand their joy until I became a parent myself. No parents to date have ever gave me a satisfactory answer why they chose to have a child. I will not be able to do so myself by trying to describe, or name some examples of joy because the truth is such that that isn't defined by a series of events or experiences. It is a journey of a soul that isn't easily transcribed, if it is possible at all. No two parenting experiences are the same to begin with but the majority of parents should agree, it has been a great adventure so far.


  1. awwww... :) i always believe to have a child of your your takes alot to happen, and many of which, its the forces of nature.

    not becos you want it, and u shall have it. :)

    God bless u nix

  2. Cherish every single moments cos kids grow up very fast.

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