Phew! It’s over, my most nerve-racking event of the year: speaking to 40 men in a corporate setting about Preparation for fatherhood. I don’t know why I feel so anxious before this, apart from the fact that this is the only occasion I speak exclusively to men. It might also be the setting: high in the clouds in Hong Kong’s tallest and possibly plushest building. Even the lifts are scary. As I entered, a recorded voice, in soothing tones, informed me that my lift was upper or lower deck, (I thought for a moment I must be on a bus), and the upper part was heading either up or down. I can’t remember which as, seemingly, I was going no-where. After a while a kind lady rescued me and dispatched a poor guy to deposit me on the right floor.
As the lift started to fill with smartly dressed people in jackets and heels I experienced a feeling of panic because, having come straight from home consultations, I’m covered in baby wee, poo, vomit or breast milk. And anyway, no matter what I wear, I just seem to stand out like a sore thumb; the big “VISITOR” badge I’m required to wear doesn’t exactly assist with my efforts to blend in with the inmates. (Note to self, orange is not a colour worn in corporate banks. Next time, go for black, grey or navy.)
I waited nervously in the large lecture room trying not to look too wowed by the amazing views of Hong Kong and bang-on 12.30 the blokes arrive. Some with their lunch boxes, some with shop purchased sandwiches and coffee and some with nothing to eat or drink (no more corporate lunches in this economic climate). And, of course, most carry a Blackberry.
I started the talk and made the same mistake as last time, I asked how they feel. As the mother of two sons, I should know by now that boys just don’t do feelings, especially in front of work colleagues. So I hastily skipped my group participation lesson plan and I talked. I talked about what I know, the implications of being a father, how to address their doubts and fears, how to prepare for their new role and the need for involvement in the early years to promote bonding.
I could see they are interested and want to be good fathers and supportive husbands and the questions they ask at the end, both in front of the group and individually are not about themselves but about their baby or their wife and how they can help. I felt privileged that these men have taken time in their busy day to come and listen to me. And I now think of all the women who tell me they couldn’t have done it without their husbands, both giving birth and becoming a parent and I’m glad I pushed myself out of my comfort-zone and did it! But I’m also jolly glad I don’t do it often!
Happy Fathers Day to all those lovely Daddies out there.