When I became a dad, they made me pretend to be a surgeon.
Despite my lack of medical training, and the fact that I once accidentally stabbed myself while screwing together an IKEA chair, I was handed some surgical scissors and pointed in the direction of a frail human the size of a granary loaf.
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They clamped these scissors around the umbilical cord and asked me to cut, but the blotchy purple skin of an infant looks quite similar to the blotchy purple skin of an umbilical cord.
‘Are you sure?’ I asked. ‘Is it DEFINITELY this bit that goes?’
But I wanted to look more capable than I was, and so, puffed up like a Dr Drake Ramoray impersonator, I gave the scissors a squeeze. Umbilical cords are surprisingly tough and I grappled and waggled for a while before it snipped.
I felt incompetent, but I did a better job than I expected. This, it turns out, is how things have been for the six years since.
Secretly feeling incompetent is not a new thing for me. It’s been there since sometime around my mid teens and has continued through my entire adult life: every job and relationship and sporting event I’ve taken part in.
I normally swallow these these concerns pretty quickly, and think: ‘Fuggit. I’m great. It’ll be fine. And if it isn’t, what does it matter? Each one of us is nothing more than a random assortment of atoms ultimately destined to become carbon.’
And that makes me feel better and I power on.
But dadding feels too big a job for such casual affirmation. It’s hard to think ‘fuggit’ when I’m responsible (at least partly) for the wellbeing and development of two tiny humans. In every thing that I do related to my daughters I feel like I’m bluffing and will soon be found out.
But since I became a father, I’ve noticed that most people feel the same.
Matt AKA Papa Pukka, is a writer and podcaster, dad of two and an advocate of flexible working via Flex Appeal with wife Anna. Their bestselling first book Parenting the Sh*t Out of Life will be followed in January 2020 by ‘Where’s My Happy Ending?’
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