What the books do not tell you about fatherhood, what I am doing about it, plus the story behind @the_littleglobetrotter Instagram account.
According to biology, the biggest change in a man's life occurs during puberty. The transition of boy to man is a huge milestone for us men. Our voice starts to deepen, muscles start to grow, shoulders broaden and yes, hair starts growing everywhere! Cultures and traditions all around the world have their own ways to celebrate this transformation. This rite of passage is usually symbolised by a very manly task. Although I do not belong to a culture that requires me to kill a bore and cook it on an open fire, I still went through this process of growing up like every other boy. Society told me that becoming a man meant making sure I got a good job and have a successful career, earn enough money to be able to support my family, live in a nice house, and buy that sports car hanging over my adolescent bed. Surely that is what being a man in the 21st century means, no?
This in mind, as soon as my wife’s pregnancy test turned out positive, I changed my job to a better, higher paid one and bought a house. In essence I tried to model my life according to how society defines 'being a father'. I bought all the books (audio books to be precise) and listened to each one over and over again on my daily two hour commute to work. As far as preparation went, I was confident that whatever fatherhood threw at me, I could handle it. What I came to realise pretty early on into my fatherhood journey was that books only do so much to prepare first time parents, less so specifically dads, and even less so in terms of preparing you for the tsunami of personal growth and change of world outlook.
Despite all the preparation (reading and listening) however, everything began to fall apart the minute my wife and I arrived home from the hospital with our little baby boy. Everything that I recognised as important in my life now seemed less important, and the definition of manliness broke down every time I held my little baby boy. The last thing on my mind was going back to work and getting back into the daily grind and routine! I was faced with what I like to call a Dad dilemma (or 'Dadlemma'). I need to be at work to earn money to support my son, but at the expense of not spending time with him. I contemplated quitting or at least working part time but it’s not really an option. Instead I got the company to accept adding 3 weeks (from my annual leave entitlement) to my 1 week parental leave, and we caught a flight to Bali, Indonesia…