This is a cliche, I realize, that there are no books to teach you about how to become a good father. This is probably true of everything else: being a good husband, being a good wife, being a good teacher, etc. They can only share experiences of others, and suggest coping or improvement mechanisms. The rest – and the most important work – has to be done by the subject himself/herself, through plodding grit.
I’ve been a father for four days, and I don’t know how to describe it. (To be fair, I’m still at an advantage compared to other new fathers as I haven’t set physical eyes on the little rascal that has now come to turn my wife’s breasts into a mammary tap. I was there in the labour room only via Skype, and the first photos I took of him, taken about thirty seconds after he emerged from her body, adjusting his tiny eyes to the concept of light, have gripped me since). It’s a slow but intense bonding experience.
“So, what is it like to be a father?” I’ve been asked.
“It’s the weirdest, beautiful and complex feeling in the world. Here’s a little, helpless, creature that I helped to make, and I must now raise and protect with all I have.” I respond.
It will get more complex after I’ve handled regular diaper change, and a number of sleepless nights. Perhaps a little more intense after I’ve held him in my hands and against my chest for a number of hours. But it would never ever be less beautiful, like the face of that sleeping child.