Things you learn when you become a father

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Being a parent is wonderful, but life is not without its challenges. As a new father to a four-month-old boy, it has given me a new perspective on things, and not in the way I expected. Here are some of the things I’ve become aware of as a father.

The train companies hate babies

If you think train travel is a pain, try doing it with a buggy. Everything is up or down a lot of stairs, and the token lift is 1) barely big enough to fit one family and 2) unbelievably slow. Last-minute platform alterations become the stuff of nightmares.

Baby changing and disabled access are treated as the same thing

When out and about with my son, the disabled toilets and changing facilities are often in the same cubicle. On more than one occasion, I’ve had elderly ladies attempting to batter down the door while I’ve been in there, because there’s literally nowhere else they can go. New parents, the elderly and disabled are all lumped in the same category, which doesn’t seem right at all.

No matter how many books you read, it’s all just guessing

Parenting is something you muddle through. Every week brings a new thing for you to deal with. You can never become complacent. We are still in the easy stage – our son isn’t even crawling yet – but we’ve still had plenty of moments when we’ve had to think on our feet. Which I’m told is a good leadership skill, so perhaps I’ve become more entrepreneurial.

You can function on a lot less sleep than you realise

While you do have days where your brain feels about five steps behind the rest of you, you can generally function pretty well on a few hours of sleep. It’s usually not until you get home in the evening that tiredness starts taking over, but even then, of your baby is awake with teething pain or your partner is at his or her wits’ end, you need to dig into your reserves and get on with it.

Parents are drawn to each other

Sometimes, being a parent feels like being in a secret club. If you’re out at a networking event, being a parent is an amazing icebreaker – you feel a mutual bond born out of understanding of the pain and wonder of parenthood. You also know that these are the only people who are going to tolerate your endless babbling about your child, and the hundreds of pictures you have primed on your phone – you get to compare notes, and reassure each other that you’re doing everything right.

The happiness you get from your child really is like nothing else

Before your child is born, people tell you this all the time, but you don’t quite believe them. Then you become a father, and you feel a rush that you have never got from anything else. And you realise you need this, to be a parent. If you didn’t have that rush, nobody would be able to get through it.

Mark Rowland is a journalist and former editor of Accounting Technician and 20 magazine.

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