A dad at 25: "I was so self-centred before, but it’s not about me any more"

Rorisang Mogapi. (Photo: Supplied)
Rorisang Mogapi. (Photo: Supplied)

Imagine you’re 25, just got your degree, are unemployed and you haven’t quite figured out this life thing, then your girlfriend tells you she’s pregnant and bam it hits you – you’re about to be a father. Well, I do not need to imagine this because it happened to me.

The first time I heard those words it was crazier than the Tower of Terror thrill ride, just as fast my heart started beating at 180 km/ph, and my mind was racing just as fast, if not faster.

If you’ve felt that, welcome to the journey of becoming a young father. And I use the word "father" even though my baby is still in the womb because as she grows, I’ve slowly come to realise that I have to be a responsible and good dad even before she arrives.

While her mother still has her in the womb, I have her growing in my mind and each day all I can think about is how I’m going to provide for this life. I’m no expert on fatherhood, but I know that I do need to provide, and if you’re borderline broke like I am, "providing" is a scary word, but it’s not all about providing the material things, it’s actually about providing love, care and protection.

Being responsible for someone other than yourself is really a scary concept, especially for a guy, considering that we can’t even clean our rooms properly. If that kind of responsibility is scary, imagine how scary being a first-time parent is?

Before I go on like I’m a pro, here’s the truth: I’m as scared as can be, and if I’m scared just imagine how my girlfriend feels – imagine, how all women feel when they go through this.

As a male, I know the fear can make you go into shock and you start distancing yourself from your partner. I am doing my best to be there for my woman in every way possible. Each day is an emotional roller coaster for her and I’m sure for most pregnant women.

I was so self-centred before, but that’s a habit that needs to leave, it’s not about me anymore and if you’re going to become a dad like me, you need to tell yourself it’s not about you anymore.  

As she goes through the trimesters, or as I like to call them, "confusing times", I learn more and more about how she feels but then all of a sudden it’s back to “so what do you mean?”   

And now for the cravings, if you don’t have a car it’s the absolute worst! I think my calves grew from all the walking to get my girlfriend food she craves – Chicken Licken knows me all too well. I even started jogging there because trust me, you don’t want to be late with a pregnant woman’s chicken wings!

Once you get a car, which I’m glad I did, it becomes easier but at almost R16 for a litre of petrol, my pocket is also getting morning sickness at the moment.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad, honestly, it’s an amazing process.

I love how as the bump grows our connection grows with it, and that connection is something that is indescribable – to know that in nine months there’ll be a little human, which is 50 percent me and 50 percent her, the perfect ratio, two people coming together to make one.

And to you reading this, I don’t know if you’re religious or not but trust me you’re going to need to believe in something, because I know some days I couldn’t believe in myself, but the truth is if I can do it, you can too! Through all the crazy emotions and the "not knowing where you’re going" days, the one thing you need to allow to shine through is love. What I’ve grown to understand more than anything is that you need to love them and that, my friend, will keep the drive to succeed on full throttle.

Also, don’t overthink it, Lord knows I did and trust me it doesn’t help. I almost went bald, at 25 – imagine that. I wouldn’t want my baby looking at me thinking, “Why is my dad so old?”

Now fatherhood awaits me and if it’s awaiting you too, don’t be scared or worried because even our fathers didn’t know how they’d raise us, but look at us now. We’re making babies too.

If you don’t have a dad, I won’t lie and give you a fake quote because I don’t know how you feel, but all I can say is we all need to man up and take care of our children so that they never have that feeling.

This is only the beginning, gentlemen, it’s time to go from big strong men to gentle giants and give our babies a giant dose of unconditional love and provision.

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