On Dads

Two years and half ago I became a dad. Because I was one of the first people in my kind of age group to have a kid lot of my peers always ask me 'what's it like?' and 'what's the biggest change?' especially now as more of them are considering parenthood.

I've slowly figured out the right response and that's this - the main thing is that its not one thing.

Having a kid affects all the things and all the relationships in your life in different ways. For example, your relationship with your partner changes, how you think about work, the role of your family, your own self image, who your friends are, how you spend your time each day, your long term view. All of it. But at the same time you do just sort of, well, carry on, so in some ways nothing changes. Its weird.

It certainly means you start thinking about some entirely new bigger things. In particular I found myself becoming frustrated with how badly our general way of living in the UK is setup for looking after small kids, and how negatively and jarringly our consumer culture interacts with children and parenting.

It's not all bad though, far from it, and one of the most positive things for me about becoming a dad was how it changed my own perspective on my relationship with my own dad).

I've always had some kind of desire to 'beat' my dad. I think its first child syndrome. My old boss and I used to joke that this was our main motivation in doing our work. I wasn't sure what I wanted to beat him at - maybe life? - but I definitely had something to prove to him. He never directly encouraged this in me, it's just kind of there.

But two and a bit years after having Elfie I've realised that my mindset has changed. Basically I just want to be more like my dad every day.

There's this weird but obvious thing that happens when you become a parent (probably more so if you haven't been around lots of young children beforehand). You start reaching into unexplored memory banks to figure out how to do stuff, and it just pops into your brain.

It's not so much practical things. It's the other stuff. Things like what food to make, or what songs to sing, or what types of places to visit, or how to explain how things work. And so on.

You also start getting these early memories of stuff, because you instinctively do the things that were done to you, so it makes you remember. Bath time. Eating hard boiled eggs. Wellies. TV time. Family cuddles. The little park. Letting kids join in with DIY.

And of course loads of these memories feature my dad. The amazing thing is that so far I've never thought 'he did it wrong, I'm going to do it a different way'. Not once. Which when you think about it is pretty epic.

I think it's this that has made me move on from wanting to beat my dad to just wanting to be more like him - because he just got it so right.

Its not like I'm going to specifically try and be more like Pete from now on. Its just that there isn't a single reason not to. If I do this then hopefully Elfie can write something similar one day too.

Pete and Nick

Nick and Pete