Often I’ll begin a series because of a personal experience or preoccupation. This is a bit different, I’ve of course only seen fatherhood as an observer. To open a conversation with new fathers about their experiences felt quite liberating, for me and I think in some cases for them too. So, in that spirit, I asked my partner to write something about his experience as a kind of introduction.
“ This series documents such a range, depth and complexity of early fatherhood. Some aspects will be familiar, others less so. By personality or circumstance, every father’s experience will be different. This is only my own.
These days we talk a lot about absent fathers. I never was and never will be. But, looking back on those first weeks and months, I think absence is a lot of what I felt. Apart from (in my head, heroically) declaring responsibility for all nappy changing, there was an absence of anything I could really contribute to my son’s care. Only support and admiration for Sophie after everything she’d done for us. There was an absence of love for my son, too. Yes, a great deal of responsibility and pride. But not love as such. Not the way I feel it now. It felt like a logistical issue, a challenge to be overcome. And there’s something quite lonely about feeling you should be in love if you’re not. And it’s something you feel you really shouldn’t admit.
Lastly, Sophie, in her kindness, noticed more than I ever did – I was absent in the eyes of others. Health workers, friends and family cooed over our son and enquired after Sophie’s health. Rightly so, after the sheer physicality of what she had been and was still going through. I could only stand behind and smile and roll out cliches about late nights and poo.
Today, nothing brings me more joy, satisfaction or hope than my son. That grows every day. So, when Sophie said she was beginning this series, I was flattered. And to be recognised in that way was amazingly affirming. So, I hope through this series; new fathers, old fathers, fathers to be, or those who love fathers, see something they also recognise. ” - Misha