For most men, being a new father ignites some new feelings that they wouldn’t otherwise experience.
I felt a new sense of responsibility when Hannah was first born. Along with that, I’m sure we can all remember the enthusiasm that carried us through our days as new fathers. It all starts with the event—the delivery of your new baby, which is “exhilarating,” “breathtaking” and, well, indescribable. Then, for six months or so, you keep running into people who haven’t received a birth announcement, and you get to tell the “indescribable” story over and over again.
You may start to feel a little drained from your lack of sleep, but then pretty soon that child will take his first step, and then say his first word, and you get fresh shots of pride and enthusiasm.
This stage of fatherhood is relatively “low maintenance” for us dads. Mothers are as busy as they’ll ever be in their mothering life cycle, but fathers are not quite so taxed. Your involvement at this stage means changing dirty diapers, tying shoes, coloring a picture or rolling a ball back and forth. Much of what your child needs is physical care, and you don’t have to deal much in relational negotiations—you’ll be tested on those later on. The child’s needs are pretty easy to figure out and supply, and this whole fathering thing seems pretty grand.
Along with responsibility and enthusiasm, new fathers also begin to awaken to the cost of being a father. You’re always tired; you never have time to just relax, or read a book any more; the new child will even bring about situations that cause tension between you and your wife, bringing emotional costs as well.
But, if you’re like many men, the first thing on your mind will be the monetary costs. Once you get the hospital paid off, there are diapers, food bills, clothes, more doctor bills, and the list goes on and on.
Your wife is on maternity leave, maybe indefinitely, and the added expense falls on you. Don’t feel guilty for thinking of your precious child in terms of dollars and cents; be encouraged that you take financial provision for your family seriously. That’s one of the many things effective fathers do.