Joseph Kelly asks, are babies more exciting for mum than they are for dad?
When Maisie was born I was the most excited dad ever. I didn't think any baby could be as endlessly fascinating as my Maisie. My colleagues at work constantly pretended to be entertained with daily updates on Maisie's comings and goings. My mum always made me feel that she had been waiting by the phone just to hear what new life skill her latest grandchild had acquired. And all I had to do was look at Maisie to know that she was the most special child ever created.
So when my friend Will was initially dismissive of Maisie I was a bit put out. "Babies are pretty boring for the first 12 months" said Will, father of five, after first meeting Maisie. Pretty boring?!
Will had obviously missed Maisie's fascinating attempts to gurgle, her unmissable rolls across the floor, her look of amazement at any light source or her edible look of concentration when she worked on a poo. I couldn't understand how anyone could class this unending stream of entertainment as boring. Then I had another baby.
By the time Frances was born Maisie and I had sorted ourselves out. When Maisie woke in the night she called for daddy. When Susie was breastfeeding Frances, Maisie and I would do a jigsaw puzzle or colour in some pictures or dance in the lounge room. If Susie and Frances were having a nap, Maisie and I went visiting friends.
For me, the arrival of Frances meant I had a lot more time to spend with Maisie – and I loved it.
For me, the arrival of Frances meant I had a lot more time to spend with Maisie - and I loved it. Given the choice of staying home and watching Frances try and poo or going to the movies with Maisie, Maisie won hands down each time.
It's not that Frances and I didn't bond, it's more that I knew I didn't have to rush. If Maisie taught me anything it's that before I knew it Frances would be racing around the house demanding my attention. Until then, I thought, I'd spend some quality time with Maisie who, incidentally, didn't need nappy changing and could actually tell me what she needed.
It wasn't long, however, before Susie started worrying about my relationship with Daughter Number Two. Even a colleague, when introducing me to her mum, said "This is Joe. He has two daughters but only talks about one."
So it looked like I was in danger of becoming a dreaded Bad Parent. If things kept going the way they were we were about to become a divided household, split into the Maisie Lobby and the Frances Lobby.
But then something strange happened - Frances turned one. And as soon as she turned one she started walking. And once she started walking she became, well, interesting. She stopped being Susie's baby and suddenly announced herself, as Maisie started to call her, as 'Our Francie'.
It was as if over-night everything she started to do had endless possibilities. And before I knew it she was racing around the house demanding my attention - and I loved every minute of it.
Now with a new baby on the way, and with Frances having just turned three, I feel empowered enough to admit that I find babies pretty boring for the first year, but to me toddlers are God's own creatures.
Are babies boring? Are they more exciting for mum than they are for dad? And are toddlers God's own creatures?
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