by Phillip Tiicham Muir –
For six months now I’ve been neck-deep in the world of diapers, feed times, naps and strolls. No, I haven’t retired: I’ve become a father. After half a year I still look at my beautiful son, asking him: “where did you come from?” Before you start telling me how babies are made, I can assure you I do understand the science behind it. What I can’t wrap my head around though, is how this fully functional mini-human grew from the size of a plum in just one year. It’s astounding to witness a life begin from the very start, it really is.
I wasn’t totally unprepared for parenting, having been a stepfather for a couple of years prior. Starting from scratch is a whole different ballgame though. I’m sure many of you are parents, but for those who aren’t, this is the best way I can describe life with your first new baby: it’s a lot like the first time you fall in love. You look at this person and wonder how on earth you came to be together, and no words can describe the warm fuzzies you feel for them. Now imagine that same person wakes you up multiple times every night, screaming in your ear, then pees, poops and slobbers all over you. If this was your special someone, that puppy love would likely fade fast and you’d look for someone far less annoying. In the case of a baby though, you still want to smother them in kisses, even after they’ve sapped the last of your energy and dignity.
Rollercoaster though it is, I know it’s all par for the course, so I soldier on. I’m fortunate enough to be on parental leave, which means I can devote more of my energy to our babe. My mistake was planning all sorts of projects for my leave, thinking I’d suddenly have so much time on my hands … how naïve I was. One thing I can say for having a baby is that it forces you to slow down a little, and enjoy life in your community. When only a walk or drive will settle the little tyke, you have no choice but to do some window shopping on Beacon Avenue or drive West Saanich Road from one end to the other.
The Peninsula is a pretty special place to raise a child, especially having grown up here myself. I have fond childhood memories of Cole’s Bay, so it was the perfect place to show my son the ocean for the first time. He met his Great Grandma at Butchart Gardens and got his first good look at trees in Gowland Tod Park. We will be moving away shortly, but the Saanich Peninsula will always have a warm place in our hearts.
I find the need to savour every moment, no matter how big or small, because my child is constantly learning, developing and will never be quite as dependent on me as he is now. It’s dependence that’s changed my life the most, I think. While family, friends and significant others rely on us to some extent, it’s different with a child. With a little one you’re not living for yourself anymore, because their needs come first from now on.
If I could pass on any advice to other first-timers, it would be to take everything in your stride. Know that all plans are tentative, every moment of solitary downtime is precious, and every moment with your babe is even more precious. A child is a wonderful embodiment of time and its linear nature. There’s no turning back to the days before they could smile, crawl, talk, walk or ride a bike. There’s no return to innocence.