Updated: Feb 2, 2021
Exposure to digital content, right from our favourite television series to interactions with friends & influencers on social media, has set unrealistic expectations of intimacy and idealised the notion of falling in love at first sight. You're expected to fall deeply in love the minute you lay eyes on your child or feel an instant connection the first time you hold them in your arms. Don't let society's perception of how you should feel or when to feel it affect you. Don't feel guilty because the birth of your child wasn't an epiphany of sheer love.
The truth is, falling in love with your child is the most natural thing and you should let it happen organically, at its own pace. There is no specific time for it to happen, it could happen instantly or it could take a few months, but it will happen. Don't rush it or unnecessarily pressure yourself, that will only lead to more stress and anxiety.
To be honest, I was never fond of children to begin with. Of course I wanted to have my own some day - but it wasn't something I was overly excited about. I didn't spend my time at work day dreaming about family vacations with the kids. You would never find me strolling in the kids section of a shopping mall looking at cute baby outfits and I never spent a minute thinking about baby names till I absolutely had to. In fact, when my first son was born, I was so caught up in the entire experience that I never really had that moment. It was not until 3 days later, when I was driving back to the hospital from my house that the feeling suddenly dawned upon me. He wasn't even in my arms or in sight for that matter - I was listening to the radio, the song Something Just Like This by Coldplay was on and suddenly in that moment it just hit me. I was a dad. I had a beautiful baby boy and it took me 3 days to realise that this is exactly what I wanted. In that moment I knew that I loved him, much more that I thought I was capable of.
Fast forward to 2 years later and baby boy number 2. Again no sudden rush of love or momentous feeling of devotion. I tried many playlists - trying to find the right song. It just didn't happen the same way. Days became weeks, I was now searching for inspiration, all my playlists were either 'top love songs of 2019' or 'all time favourite love songs'. It didn't work. I was soon feeling guilty. What if I don't love my second child as much? Is it possible? What will happen when he grows up? Will he realise and resent me for it?
There was too much going on. It's not easy looking after two kids and in all the chaos and lack of sleep its easy to loose track of what matters and your mind starts to play tricks on you. I left the thought - something I'll tackle another day. I really don't know when the transition happened this time. I would guess probably after about 2 months. He grew onto me. Just spending time with him, feeding him, cleaning his diapers, feeding him again, watching him smile and putting him to sleep. All that time we spent together - somewhere along the way - without me realising it - I was once again completely in love with my son. I can't imagine how it's possible - I guess as parents we're wired to love our children unconditionally. It's biology, science is on our side.
I'm sharing this with you because I don't want you to overthink things. Don't have false expectations of a perfect moment - it won't happen when you expect it to. But it will and when it does, it will be perfect for you. Take care of your wife and help out with the baby as much as you can, everything else will fall into place.