There’s a universal truth that men are afraid of (having) children. I remember Lukas when he stayed with us. Nhim was less than 1 and apparently she liked him. She likes to craw to him, and in my presence, he’d force himself to wave to her, or ‘hi’ to her. But one time she invaded his room, I was out of his sight, the truth was: he said nothing, and his body movement suggested it was as if a giant spider was crawling towards him. That’s what most men think about kids: Get away from me, monster!
Even my husband who envisioned in his 20s an ideal family is one with 3-4 kids, it took him almost 1 year until he gradually step into the consciousness that he has become a father. Finally. My God, how can it be true? I have a child. Really?
Women always like children. And that’s actually very strange from an objective point of view as it’s women who often do all the ‘not nice’ jobs with kids. We must have been drugged to like kids so much. My husband caught me on bursting out ‘so cute’ over baby animals or so, and he said people brain are wired to like ‘baby-like’ features: big head, big eyes. It’s the way to ensure babies have chance to survive, because we think they’re so cute we can’t resist to cuddle and feed and care for them. We are fooled by nature to fulfil this role.
Women always think of baby as something to enjoy. Men think of them as something to dread. And actually men are right. According to my husband (with his chin up), men are just .. realistic ‘we know it from the beginning’. It was shocking for me as a new mum to learn that it’s not enjoyable with a new born. It’s a lot of hard work. But as soon as Nhim got bigger and I started to forget how horrible it was with a baby, I again fell into the dreamy ‘baby-ecstasy’ syndrome. Babies become cute again.
Everyday my husband says to me: this baby is horrible. She waits for him to be home, as soon as she heard the door opens, she turns into a hyperactive child, screaming ‘Taciooooooooooooooooo’. For the word ‘dad’, beside of the (polish) ‘tato’, she invented ‘tatusiu’, ‘tacio’, ‘cicio’, ‘titi’. He has no time for himself til she goes to sleep, and when she does, he uses this time left of the day to complain about how horrible she is. But if he doesn’t spend time with her, he feels even more horrible because of guilt. So to sum up, being daddy is horrible, horrible. HOR-RI-BLE! (as he’d pronounce it with separated syllables)
According to him, men mentally don’t decide to have kid, men only ACCEPT (reluctantly) that kids ‘rain’ into their life, and they cope with it like with any mishap that comes along in life. And as with coping with mishaps, kids in fact help men to grow up… Or the opposite.
One convincing reason for men about having kids is that they can FORMALLY and RIGHTFULLY play Lego, and indulge themselves in toy car, boat, plane models once again. No need to be embarrassed when caught enjoying themselves with childish gadgets because ‘it’s only for my kid, you know.’ And honestly, the toy industry has evolved so much since the time they nagged their own parents for toy soldiers, and even better, now they own a wallet and don’t need to ask anyone (except their wives) for permission. My husband experiences a ‘hobby-boom’ since Nhim reached 1,5 year old. He becomes an internet-shopaholic for children’s books and toys and hasn’t stopped living his childhood again. He bought everything, tried everything he wanted as a child, and with a good excuse. How good is that to have a child!
So, women like kids and realized it’s not so great. Men hate kids and realized it can be great fun. But also when men have (finally, if ever) reconciled with the fact that they’re fathers, they tend to think of parenting in a more abstract and long-term perspective. Because men (forever) don’t like babies, they think of kids as PEOPLE who will grow up, will misbehave, will have problem finding jobs and establishing family. And then they adjust their parenting accordingly in preparation for these challenges. And those challenges, in fact, are exciting for men too. Better than any video games because it’s REAL. If you screw up something, you can’t simply restart your kid’s life (you can start a new one but not this same one, your score for this match remains ‘failure’ for eternity). So you have to try your very best. Women, who like babies (and not so much competitive video games), think of kids forever as BABIES. So the first things that catch our attention and priorities are feeding them, keeping them clean and nice, making them smile. That’s not always the best thing. I do accept that there’re things we should learn from men. At least my own mental reminder.
Women care for kids out of their instinct. Men don’t have this instinct, so what drive them to care for kids? I guess, their perception of themselves. Men want to be seen as decent men and decent men means decent husbands, for example, so they help with changing nappies, pushing trolley. Not because they love these jobs, but rather because it’s ‘has to be done’ and it make them feel they fulfil their duty. When kids are bigger, being decent men means being responsible father in shaping life, creating good environment, role-model for this little inexperienced person. As i see it, men’s effort comes from the reflection of self-value, sort of ‘ What kind of man I am if I can’t provide for my kid’. In the central place stays men’s self image and emitting from it their motivation to care for family. Don’t know if it’s true, but if it is, I won’t complain, either.
In the end, Lukas did get a child and (maybe to his own surprise) he did become a caring father, who still doesn’t worship smelly diapers but could manage a baby if she’s left to him. I think men become a level higher in their self perception when they (have to) father a child, kind of ‘what didn’t kill you make you stronger’ ‘Hah, you see, I could even do it.’ I think they in fact become more proud of themselves for having the courage to step out of eternal selfish boyhood to become a father.
And that’s what makes a man.