Fathers, too, have ‘maternal instincts’ 

The more I settled into parenting, the deeper the feeling grew, so much that I was even able to anticipate things before they happened.

Photo credit: Illustration| Igah

What you need to know:

  • The more I settled into parenting, the deeper the feeling grew, so much that I was even able to anticipate things before they happened.
  • There are hundreds of times he has missed a step and almost tumbled to the ground, but somehow, I am always able to fly from wherever I am in time to catch him mid-air.

“Have your fatherly instincts kicked in yet?” asked my wife’s best friend, Betty. We were in the delivery room, watching my wife trying to get our son Milan to latch correctly. 
“What instincts? I don’t feel a thing,” I responded automatically.
She was surprised because according to her, the instincts should have kicked in immediately I set my eyes on my son. 
You see, motherly instincts are borne out of the bond a mother shares with her baby while in the womb. That is something no father can offer. We have to wait until the day we hold the baby to make the connection.
I must have been in denial about being a father. 
Sadly, that is not something that can be explained through words, taught in class, or imposed; it catches you like the flu, without notice. The bug would bite me the following morning as I drove home to pick a few items for the baby and his mother. 

Feelings grew

All of a sudden, I felt like my ego was pumped tenfold. I was a father! Out of the blue, everything in my path seemed to be connected to fatherhood. What had become my prohibitive driving speed reduced drastically that day because I now had someone to live for. I would hit 100kph on the gas pedal, and the baby image would pop in my mind. He was barely 24 hours old in planet earth but was already controlling how I looked at life, love, and the future.
The more I settled into parenting, the deeper the feeling grew, so much that I was even able to anticipate things before they happened. There are hundreds of times he has missed a step and almost tumbled to the ground, but somehow, I am always able to fly from wherever I am in time to catch him mid-air. I have no idea how that happens, neither did I know before that I possessed such superman powers. I often equate those moves to God’s protection over humans, because I operate so swiftly that my son smiles through, oblivious of the ugly I just saved him from.
That instinct has made me trudge the path of parenting comfortably in the absence of my wife because I do not need a reminder to do things. I would be sitting at a meeting and something in my mind screams ‘dude, it’s 3 pm, time to get back home and pick him off the school bus!’ Forget timing; I can look into my son’s eyes and tell he is on the verge of falling sick, even when he appears okay.

Everything to do with instinct

Arguably, the main difference between fathers who are present in their children’s lives and those that are absent has everything to do with this instinct. If it fails to launch, then the man’s mind continues to convince him the child will somehow disappear into oblivion. If it hits home, the man closes his ears to the world and throws all his energy into creating a suitable environment for the young one. 
In this dissemination, even the most patriarchal of fathers find themselves behaving like hawks around their children. In other words, dads need to listen to the mind and body, and then they would realise there is a nurturing aspect in our DNA we love to suppress.
I have also come to realise that once fatherly instincts get into your system, they manifest even with children who are not yours. On so many occasions, I find myself watching over other peoples’ children even when I have not been requested to do so because in them, I see my own. Children also seem to notice this because strangers’ children often run into my arms,  which never happened before I got my own.