Channel 4’s Jon Snow is a new dad again at the age of 73. He joins the likes of Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Mick Jagger in the “older dad” category.
Living close to the Phoenix Park, every day I spot “older” dads whilst out and about. When I say older, I mean middle-aged men like me pushing buggies and entertaining their little ones.
And I am conflicted in my reaction.
On the one hand I think: “Gosh it is great to have come through that stage of life and out the other side with two healthy grown-up teenagers,” not envying the night shifts, the early mornings and the general regimental routine which comes with being a parent.
If I close my eyes and think back to when they were babies, infants, toddlers and young children, it’s a pure image of calm and happiness
Then the other part leaves me feeling somewhat melancholic whilst fondly recalling those fun times in trying to bring a smile to their faces. With both children born in March, it was a great time of year to arrive into the world. Because it meant those first few months of life were spent so much outdoors in the warm summer breeze.
If I close my eyes and think back to when they were babies, infants, toddlers and young children, it’s a pure image of calm and happiness. But they are memories which melt into the hazy blob of times past.
I can’t really remember if they cried much. I can’t really remember if they woke up early every morning. I can’t really remember if it was exhausting. I remember my children as I see and hear them now if that makes any sense. I try to rewind back in time by reminiscing with them.
“Do you remember when we used to...”; “Do you remember that time we went to see Santa Claus...”; “What? You don’t remember that holiday and all the trouble we went to!?”
It swings both ways as they remind me of events from their childhood which I will have forgotten. There’s a plastic bag full of old camcorder tapes chronicling various stages of their childhoods. Yes, camcorder tapes because as 19 and 15 year olds, there were no smartphones.
A flick through those old albums is like a morale-boosting tonic
That is no harm as it also means there are actual hardcopy photo albums full of joyful memories, dubious fashion reminders and embarrassing poses!
A flick through those old albums is like a morale-boosting tonic. I keep promising to get those camcorder tapes sorted into the modern-day version but procrastination is my middle name when it comes to things like that.
Yet then there’s also part of me envious, remembering all the fun and innocence of raising an infant
The average age of first-time dads is getting older and touching the mid-30s. The same for first-time mothers which according to the CSO is among the oldest in Europe at 30.5. Almost one in five first-time dads are aged over 40. I was almost 29 when my eldest Deirbhile was born and almost 33 when Patrick arrived. So I walk into a shop now with them hovering at the six-foot mark and I am meeting men older than me navigating their little babies around.
Part of me feels proud if not selfish about it in a “Hey look at me the cool young dad” smug sort of way. Yet then there’s also part of me envious, remembering all the fun and innocence of raising an infant. But while wishing Jon Snow and his wife all the best on their great news, whether I’d want to be starting all over again at 73, I am not so sure!
Writer Michael Fewer has a new book out titled A Natural Year, reminding us of the natural world around us, which we’ve lost touch with in so many ways. Wouldn’t “nature class” be a progressive addition to the primary school curriculum?