“Would you like a hold?”
A year ago I, like most men, would have found this to be one of the most scary and intimidating questions another adult could ask me, usually with a child stretched out in their arms.
As a youngest child, with much older cousins, I’d never spent any time around babies.
And, by the time I was old enough to start seeing fellow adults with babies, I’d developed an inferiority complex around holding other people’s children – especially peaceful, sleeping ones.
Frightening “What if?” questions run through your mind:
- What if they wake up?
- What if they start crying?
- What if they move and are uncomfortable?
- What if my hand goes numb? Is it safe to move it or will that disturb the child?
I tended to regard sleeping children as ticking timebombs who must be kept still at all costs, otherwise all madness would break loose.
My wife would despair of me as our unborn child neared due date, longing for me to get some practice at holding children in order to build my confidence.
Manfully, I stepped up to the impending task of fatherhood by burying my head in the sand, avoiding all offers of child holding and praying that “everything would be alright on the night.”
How times have changed.
Within a day of our beautiful 6lb 7oz (tiny!) baby being born, not only was I carrying her quite happily but I was whizzing her around the room to wake her up for her food.
If she moved, that meant she was having a good time or on the cusp of enjoying herself. I’d happily move her to a different position. She went flying, swimming, sailing, cycling, rowing (all pretend of course) and I loved every minute of it.
Now she’s 6 months, much bigger and heavier, but still it’s wonderful fun to twirl her around and play games.
I don’t know how it happened. Maybe there was a switch that flicked inside my head when she was born and suddenly I knew what to do. Perhaps it was a case of “well if I break her by doing something stupid when holding her, she’s mine and not someone else’s!”
A friend described me as “naturally confident” a few weeks ago. Little do they know how timid I was before!
The payoff is amazing. This weekend we went to see our wonderful 3 year old goddaughter. She’s so much fun but when she was Sophie’s age and size I was petrified of holding her. Now, we were able to play games, have fantastic fun and just enjoy playing. Goodbye fear!
So to any guys out there who have partners “encouraging” them to hold a friend’s child, don’t worry if you’re nervous. When your own comes along, it’ll all be so much easier!