Over the course of many years of trying for a family without success, I began to get the feeling that fatherhood was slipping out of my grasp. I felt this most keenly, usually, when I was awake in the middle of the night, my head too full of it all to sleep.
At these times, it seemed as if my internal monologue was being delivered by a stranger who was stoking my worst fears as a way of motivating me. Like a perverted paternal instinct that wasn’t getting its own way. I started to think of this voice as both me and not me at the same time. When I started writing the book, it came through loud and clear..
Who am I? I’m you. I’m the voice in your head. And I’m them. All the others. The voices in everyone else’s head. What you think they think about you, what you think they say about you. I’m the voice of society – poor him, he’s the one who never had kids. I’m the voice of God – what him? He doesn’t deserve them. But mainly, I’m you. Made by you, just for you.
So, why am I scratching at the window, whistling through the keyhole? Why am I mouthing unvoiced words into your ear when your eyes are shut in the dark? Don’t ask me. You started this. It was you who roused me. You were the one tapping at my pane. You were the one who needed someone to hiss into your head and penetrate your fractured, shredded dreams. You wanted someone to bring the urgency, you needed someone to scream at you to get a move on. I’m the new drill sergeant of your let’s-have-a-baby bootcamp and it was you who promoted me. I wasn’t going to yell, red-faced, in your ear for a while yet, if I ever did. Because time is what you have got, isn’t it? You’re a man, aren’t you? There’s no tick-tock of the build-a-flock clock for you is there? But still, you’re getting restless. I can see that. You’re starting to panic like there’s some sort of cut-off point. You can have kids whenever, remember? As long as those tadpoles keep wriggling you’re in the game… Somehow, though, I can see that’s not going to reassure you, it’s not going to settle you down.
So, what’s the problem? You can tell me. It was you who summoned me remember, you might as well use me. You’re paying, the meter’s running. Time’s tick….sorry. Did I just see you flinch? Oh I see, that is the problem is it? I mean, I know a sore point when I see one. Your face, then. Ouch. So, it is all about time. You think you’re running out. Or like it’s time for a change. Time for a change because you haven’t got any more time for the bachelor life? You are now ready – really, really ready – to be a Dad, so that’s what’s going to happen, right? Hohoh! What’s that I can hear? Screeeeeeech…! I can smell the rubber burning as you veer across the traffic. Well, thing is, you built up quite a head of steam there m’boy. You say you always wanted to be a Dad but from what I could see you quite liked the bachelor life too eh? Might not be so easy to change lanes quite so quickly. You never wanted bachelorhood to last forever? That was never the plan.. It wasn’t bachelorhood for the sake of it? Sure.. Well maybe, but you seemed to be enjoying it pretty well the last time I looked. With gusto. I must admit, it has been a little while since I checked in so perhaps you’ve changed since then.
In fact, I had heard a rumour about online dating so maybe you have become someone else. Someone less desirable, less able to – what was the phrase? – ‘hop between girlfriends with a fluid ease’. The swashbuckling swordsman of the Bay of Broken Hearts has become deskbound and desperate for dates in his dotage. Yep, looks like you have changed. Or maybe it just shows you’re moving with the times? Down with the kids, as they say, eh Daddio? Oh, sorry…
Ok, so let me get this straight. Let me get this clear. Because if I’m going to do this I need to know what I’m working with. Ok. You embraced the bachelor life at the time but only with the ultimate aim of becoming a Dad? But now you’re getting frustrated because the universe is not playing ball. Meanwhile, time moves on. From where I’m standing, you prolonged those carefree years as long as you could…. Now you’re still flying solo and you’re worried that life is starting to pass you by. Is that about the measure? Is that about the size of it? Just so I know.
Well, maybe the universe just hasn’t noticed yet? It was never the long-term plan…. sure, blah. Now you’re really ready… yadda, whatever. It’s a common path that many men take so why should it be different for you? Double blah. Yep, all true, no problem with that. What I suppose I’m trying to say is that sometimes it takes a while for the greater gears to grind into position. Just because you’re panicking, it doesn’t mean the universe is going to snap its heels together and salute. Some humility, pllllease. The universe has got its own plans and you, bub, are not at the centre of them. If you really do want to be a Dad, consider that your first lesson. Something tells me I should probably stick around….