By Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child. Visit his website.
It’s a hell of a thing to be asked to write something about being a dad.
Usually I tell people the following: “Being a dad is the best thing in the world, without question, but it inside and out, upside and down, through and through f#%ks up your life.” Unfortunately I can’t say that here.
A good friend of mine once equated becoming a parent with the first time you have sex. You think you know what it’s going to be like, what it’s going to feel like, what you’ll be like doing it, but the truth is you simply don’t. The greatest injustice done to me in the run up to becoming a dad was the collusion of the popular media and the anti-natal class culture to make me think I was somewhat prepared. Somehow ready for what was about to happen to me. It took me a long time to get over the rage I felt when I finally realised how unprepared I really was. Being a dad straight up ruined my life.
Now let me put that into context. What does the word ruined really mean? To make into a ruin, to destroy. And that is what will happen, hopefully, to any new dad’s life. I say this because the life you had pre-dadness, will be destroyed, if you’re man enough to let it. As it existed before, it will no longer be. But from the ruins of what it was, a new life will emerge. That’s why I say hopefully. Because from the devastated rubble and rubbish, will come a life far more meaningful, beautiful, chaotic, scary and profoundly amazing. Your new life, as a dad, will contain, forever more, the capacity to profoundly amaze you. If you’re man enough to let it.
There are many men out there, to all men’s eternal shame, who believe that being a man entitles them to a life free from change. That it’s the people around them that must accommodate the inevitable change and flux of life, but that their manness comes complete with the inalienable right to never evolve. To these men I say: grow up.
Being a dad is deeply beautiful. It has taken me to places I never knew existed. It is a privilege and a gift. It is a calling and a mission. It is, truly, defining. It will define you as a person, it will define you as a human being and it will define you as a man. But when this definition comes calling, will you be found wanting? Will you be found in front of the TV, beer in hand, cheering on your favorite team, volume turned up to drown out your crying baby and silent partner, in the other room? Or will it find you elbow deep in poo and rubber ducks, sleep deprived, shoulder to shoulder with your spouse and up to your nose in life?
So, men, guys, dads (and everyone else), what’s it like being a dad? It’s the most earth shatteringly, life changingly, mind-blowingly, beautifulcrazyamazingscaryfreakyfunnymovingmakingshakingdeepdarkdankhilarious
indefatigableinconceivableinexorablebeautiful thing in the world, and I dig it.