My advice to new dad Jay-Z
Published 18/01/2012 | 06:00
It was the biggest celebrity birth since the nativity. The news that Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z had welcomed a baby daughter into the world created front-page headlines around the globe and possibly on faraway planets. Major international conflicts have received less attention.
For Jay-Z parenthood will surely have a bittersweet side.
As he has documented at length in his music, the Brooklyn rapper was raised by a single mother. His father walked out when he was a boy and he has attributed his teenage run-ins with the law to the absence of a male role model. Beyond wealth and privilege, he knows he will be able to give his daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, something he never had: a stable family life.
Not even a bank account heaving with billions can fully prepare you for the shock of parenthood, however. Becoming a father isn't simply a life-changing event. It alters who you are and how you look at the world.
The person you used to be is gone forever. The old you fades away to a foggy memory, so that it is impossible to remember a time when you didn't have a child to take care of.
The joy, awe and boundless pride of parenthood are of course among the greatest feelings a person can experience. But they are easily outweighed by the challenges.
You won't enjoy a proper night's sleep for months. Your relationship with your partner will undergo profound change as you come to terms with the fact that suddenly neither of you is the most important person in the other's life. Your interest in your career will diminish. Oh and yes, you will have to change nappies.
Like any first-time dad, Jay-Z has to come to terms with all of the above rather quickly (okay, maybe he can pay someone to change the nappies).
From one dad to another, therefore, we offer the big man a transatlantic fist-bump and our tips for coping with fatherhood.
1 Don't freak out too much In the days immediately after a baby's arrival, even the calmest, most rational dad may find himself feverish with paranoia. Is the infant's room too warm? Is it too cold? Why do the nurses turn the heating up one day, open all the windows the next?
Your child has just started coughing. Ought you worry? Should someone call the doctor? You're shouting and everybody is staring.
Such is the emotional fairground ride you can expect in the 72 hours after the arrival of your first born.
Here's what you need do do: calm the heck down. Obviously you have to look out for your kid's welfare. Nonetheless, it is vital that you resist the urge run to screaming to the nurses' station every 12 minutes.
2 Snooze when you can, as long as you can
Endless aeons will pass before you enjoy eight consecutive hours of sleep again. So you've got to become a nap opportunist.
For most of us, that means dozing on the bus, in the office cubicle, at the cinema or, indeed, any public space where it is safe to shut your eyes for more than 30 seconds at a time.
In Jay-Z's case, things should be rendered easier by the fact that he travels everywhere by limo, which we understand is slightly more comfortable than the 120 from Edenderry.
3 Try not to bore everybody witless
Maybe it's the sleep deprivation, but in the weeks after you become a parent you will feel ecstatic to the point of light-headedness.
Do not make the mistake of thinking anybody truly shares your elation, however.
Yes, your parents are delighted (though your mother-in-law secretly still thinks you're a bit of a clueless tragedy), your siblings mildly pleased.
Beyond that, people really don't care that you have added to the population time bomb and it would be foolish to mistake their rote inquiries about the new arrival's well-being as an excuse to launch into an impromptu speech on the joys and downsides of parenthood. Seriously, you started to get boring 10 minutes ago.
4 Accept that things are different
Parenthood's tentacles are almost as long and irresistible as Mr Tickle's arms (a reference you'd never have understood a few years ago). It affects every part of your life. In the first few months, especially, it will be all you can do to reach work every morning with your trousers on and both shoes laced up.
There's no point grousing. Just come to terms with the fact that pubs, football matches and DVDs are dead to you.
5 You will not drop the baby
Remember when your sister insisted that you hold her bawling infant and you came THAT close to letting it fall on the tiles ?
Well, it won't happen with your own child, regardless of your pre-fatherhood of clumsiness. It's evolution's way of telling you that even the biggest lunk can make for an okay dad. But seriously. Don't drop your kid. They are considerably less bouncy than they look.
6 The nappy thing -- it's no big deal
When contemplating fatherhood, changing nappies is the bit many secretly dread.
Anything requiring you to be good at both origami and mopping poo has disaster stencilled all over.
Happily, we're programmed at a deep genetic level not to freak out when cleaning up after our children.
7 You will want to buy a 'baby on board' sign
Along with the rest of humanity, you always understood motorists with 'baby on board' signs were smug, preening bubble-heads. Then you found yourself behind the wheel with your first-born in the back and turned see-through with terror.
When you've got a kid in the car, you drive as if the vehicle is made of cardboard and sticky tape. You observe the speed limit. You are afraid to over-take someone doing 40 in a 60 zone. Roundabouts become a place of dread and frustration, which is why you've put up your own 'baby on board' sign. It's to let people know you're driving this way for a reason.
8 Wave adieu to video games
Remember when your perfect Saturday was an eight-hour BioShock binge, while your missus nipped off to the shops. Erase the memory immediately. The laundry won't do itself, bottles have to be washed, nappies require changing. If you do find yourself with 20 minutes to kill, you will want to huddle in a dark corner and sleep.
It doesn't get better. By the time your child reaches toddler-hood you'll be hiding the PlayStation for fear of featuring on Ireland's Crappest Parents.
9You will lose the ability to relate to people who do not have kids
It is well documented that the childless are bored to distraction when friends with kids start droning on about their offspring.
The inverse is equally true: the moment you become a parent, your friends' non-child-related 'issues' suddenly seem tedious and irrelevant.
Who cares if your pal from college can't find a good girl to settle down with? Your eyes are propped open with matchsticks and you've suddenly noticed baby poo on your shirt.
10Your child will be the most interesting person you've ever met -- just not yet
They seldom tell you this at ante-natal class but newborn infants aren't really 'up' for bonding with dad. Actually for the first few days they've got a pretty full schedule of sleeping, feeding, sleeping again. Occasionally, by way of party trick, they will produce a nappy. And that's about it.
Give it a few months and they'll be cooing and giggling and flushing your iPhone down the loo. For now, they need to come to terms with the concept of being alive.
They've only just arrived. Don't rush them.