Some days ago Tosia turned 6 months. I decided to celebrate it in a unique way and that is how this song was created. Although it is in Polish, I invite you to watch the video and follow up with your own version for any kid-related occassion!
Category: From the Heart
It’s a warm September evening. In a quiet residential area on the Adriatic coast on the Croatian island of Pag, there is an old house with a garden with a few fig-trees. Under one of these trees, at the wooden table, sits an elderly man. He is gazing upon shimmering lights of the setting sun, touching delicately small see waves. A gentle breeze touches man’s face when he mindlessly chews one of the ripe figs.
He seems to be far away in his thoughts. Very far.
In the neighboring garden a small family party starts but the man looks like he does not hear anything and keep watching intensively at the see, as if he was looking for something.
Suddenly a little few-year old girl comes to him and touches his hand.
Grandpa Mladen, will you tell me a story tonight?
Mladen looks like he just came back to life, having heard his granddaughter’s voice.
Of course I will, my dear.
He takes her on his laps. His eyes are getting wet…
When I saw this happening in front of me many years ago, I did not understand much. I had no idea how Mladen could sit all day at this table, chewing figs and watching the sea, while life was going by. He only cheered up when his granddaughter Jasna was around. But one day he decided to explain his life’s mystery to my older friend…
When I became a father three months ago I’d known a couple things about parenting. At the same time, I did not know a million of other things. As you can see the ratio was not very favorable. I bet it has improved a little in the last 3 months though. Enough to start bragging about how knowledgeable father I already am. Obviously not in front of moms. In such confrontation I would be knocked-out in the first round. But in front of would-be fathers or brand new dads… Why not? Even if the parenthood universe is infinite, I feel like I am some light years farther in this journey than I was on the Big Bang day.
Then it occured to me, that I know some other experienced dads, who would probably feel the same, ready to share their wisdom with greenhorns, who have just earned a privilege to call themselves fathers. And this is how the idea of Universal Rules for New Dads was conceived. I asked a few mates from various countries, such as France, Netherlands, Romania, Italy and Poland, to answer the question: what is the best piece of advice you would share with a new father? The number and variety of responses amazed me. Here is the selection of best suggestions and thoughts, in my personal opinion.
Are you curious what boys recommend to other boys?
Christmas is just a couple of days away. Christmas trees are already beautifully dressed or at least standing in the living room, smelling nature and asking to be decorated. All is ready for the family get-together; who will come, how many dishes will be served and whether we will listen to Christmas carols or sing and play them. Wham’s unforgettable “Last Christmas” is being played on the radio, so we know the time has come. Fridges are full of various home-made meals. Almost all gifts are already bought, perhaps we still need to nicely wrap them and maybe there is one small thing we want to give, but we are not sure, what it can be.
It seems that all is set, but I am still confused. I would like to offer you, the Mum, something special, something that money cannot buy, but I do not know, what you would really like to have. I can only guess…
Natalia often smiles, when she hands over Tosia to me and the first thing I say to her is “Hello, I am your dad!”. I catch myself doing this over and over again and I am also laughing about this. But there is something more behind this funny introduction, something deep inside me. It is a need for having a strong relationship, to be accepted, to be loved by my little one.
For the first 3 weeks after birth, when I stayed home, I did not notice a difference between how Tosia reacted to me and Natalia. But then things changed. I went back to nine-to-five office job and naturally started to spend less time with her. And then one day I saw how she intentionally smiled for the first time, looking at her mom. I admit I was jealous. What makes things worse, when I was coming back home from work and held her in my arms in the evening, she was crying a lot. More than before, according to my subjective evaluation. I could rationalize it, but my unconsciousness whispered bitterly “she does not feel comfortable with you, she prefers mummy…”. And that was painful. At the same time my positive rational mind kept explaining: “crying is a form of communication, can be healing, and may actually indicate lots o of trust between yourselves”.
But truth be told, I knew one thing. I do not want my relationship with Tosia be built only on crying times together, and I think Tosia would agree with it. I had to find other ways and time to connect with her. So recently I looked at Tosia and imagined, that she would speak up and give me some advice. And immediately I heard the words of wisdom…
This is it. I have decided. I am leaving home 12 December.
I have been planning this for some time already but only recently I finally realized, I am really going to do it. It was not an easy decision. But I have my reasons, and there is no way I will change my mind. Am I cruel? Well, I am sure my family will be fine, I simply cannot be with them.
My mother got worried. I just received a message that she is coming all the way from Warsaw to Cracow to be with Natalia and Tosia. She does not want them to be alone in this difficult time.
I need to face the fact I will soon turn back for the last time before I close the door behind me. I am looking now at my large grey suitcase, which will soon be full of various stuff. What shall I bring with me and what should stay? It is a silent Saturday evening in our apartment and I can closely look around and contemplate the environment I will eventually leave behind me.
Indeed, I am leaving my home, Natalia and Tosia.
First weeks with Tosia have been absolutely home-focused. All the time outside was reduced mainly to shopping or other household matters. However there is one activity I managed to continue for the last eight weeks – an MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) training course, which I have completed today. Basically this training introduces participants to secular meditation practices, which in turn help one to become more aware of body sensations, thoughts and feelings. And with such awareness, it is said and I support this view, we are in a better position to take conscious decisions instead of act automatically and often against our best interest.
My inspiration to take up an MBSR training course was obviously Tosia and willingness to be able to spend time with her more mindfully; being fully present, when we are together. But what I took out as a main lesson was much more powerful…
We have just come back home from hospital after my wife Natalia and my baby girl Tosia had spent there a few days. Those days were action and emotion packed as our baby girl challenged us in an unfair competition of “who will learn new things quicker”. Obviously the winner was known from the beginning. During those days I also reflected about my new life’s role, perhaps because I got so many questions from my friends and family: “how are you feeling as a dad now?”
However interestingly, looking at my own experience but also having chatted to other dads in the hospital corridor, I found out that as much as we talked about and were excited about the new concept of parenthood we began to discover, what was much more important in these moments was our role as moms’ partners, after they’d just given birth.
My daughter has been born today
Here she is, our little Tosia.
I like to think of her as ours or mine but is she anybody’s really?
Honestly I believe she is already an autonomous human who just happen to have our DNA and will need our care for some time.
And as much I have all the intentions and thoughts of how I would like to care about her, I have no idea what the future will bring. But most importantly, we first need to get to know each other. She is as much a mystery too me as the world is a mystery to her.
So how about starting from saying “hello” only 15 minutes after she was born and a gentle skin-to-skin touch…