So, three months after my little boy Charlie was born I wrote a post on Facebook… this is it.
“I was congratulating myself today on how I’ve got nappy changing down to a precision art. I’m basically like a Formula One pit crew.. in fact, in many ways, I’m better, because when you’re speed-changing the tyres on Lewis Hamilton’s car he’s probably less likely to piss in your eyes and projectile shit up your arms.
so, this is what else I’ve learnt so far..
– I used to think that the theory that the moon landing was a hoax was total bollocks, just because it required a huge amount of people to share a secret. I now think it’s a distinct possibility given the conspiracy of silence about how horrendous labour is.. The labour suite is like being in ‘Nam.. It is nothing like you see in sitcoms or film.. unless that film is Saw IV, combined with the chest bursting scene from Alien. So, to those who told me that the birth would be a magical experience.. you’re a bunch of f*cking liars. ..Labour is like magic.. but only in that its best when you don’t know how it’s done.
(In truth, the hardest thing about labour is seeing someone you love in such excruciating pain. But then Lyns did once make me sit through an episode of Downton Abbey so .. six of one, half a doz..)
The first week.
– I never knew this.. but babies breath in a jazz syncopated rhythm.. There is no set pattern to it and they stop breathing roughly every 40 seconds just long enough for you to think they’ve died.. Of all the dick moves your baby can pull, pretending that they’ve died is by far the most dickish and they do it all the time.
– A baby crying is a weird thing. During the daytime you can listen to it and think that it’s endearing and cute. …At 3am it’s like having the inside of your skull sandpapered by an angry viking.
– Baby piss in the eye really is only funny the first time and every single shit really is comically timed. The worst thing is when they do a ‘lure-shit’, then wait till you’ve got the nappy off mid-change to bring the real thunder.. It’s the same thing terrorists do when they time bombs to go off just as the emergency services arrive.
– Every item of clothing is held together with f*cking press-studs. There are three or four more press-studs than necessary just to make you look like a moron in front of your child.. who shows their disapproval by endlessly windmilling.. Dressing a windmilling baby is like trying to put a rabbit in a f*cking balloon. when you tell them to stay still they ignore you or scratch their own face. they’re mental.
(I’m thinking of launching a range of baby clothing that is all velcro, based on strippers trousers. You should be able to just hold a baby in one hand, the clothes they’re wearing in the other and just separate the two with a satisfying rip.. )
– Babies at this age don’t look like anyone.. every one sits around drinking a f*ckload of tea and says he looks like you, or he looks like his grandad or whatever.. In truth they all look like Ross Kemp.
( well, they look like one of the Mitchell brothers anyway.. if you’ve got an ugly baby.. its Phil)
The first month.
– Throughout my adult life I’ve tried to read a book a week or so. I’m not naive I knew that I’d have less time so I thought I’d promise myself that I’d try and read a book a month.. It’s now been a couple of months and the only thing I’ve read is a pamphlet on Breast pumps. (and I’ve still not got to the end of that, I keep falling asleep during the paragraph on ‘nipple confusion’..)
– It is possible to have so little sleep that your balls hurt.
– Does anyone remember the show ‘Touch the Truck’ with Dale Winton (before he had his face retro-fitted).?. It was on Channel 5 and basically 8 contestants put their hands on a truck and the last one to keep their hands on it and stay awake won the thing. Having a baby is like being on Touch the Truck.. the only difference is that on Touch the Truck you were allowed to have a piss and something to eat every 3 hours. ..and you won a truck.
– Whether Lyns likes it or not holding the baby above your head when its naked, and singing ‘The Circle of Life’ is funny.
– Its only when you’ve just got a baby to sleep that you realise how loud your house is.. I thought our home was pretty quiet and sedate but it turns out we have a bathroom tap that sounds like Godzilla f*cking a tank.
– Trying to walk round a supermarket takes ages because old women reeeally like babies and lock onto a pram with the dead-eyed tenacity of a predator drone. Dodging them is like playing Frogger. They’re wily, if there’s more than one of them you’re screwed, they’ll split up and hunt in packs like f*cking raptors.
After 3 months…Now..
– The most important thing ive learnt so far is that Charlie is supremely lucky to have Lyns as his mum. She’s tough, smart, funny and in love ..and she will make sure I don’t fuck up too much. Hopefully, her DNA will also batter my genetic predisposition towards big nostrils and man-tits.
He is without reservation the greatest thing that has ever happened to us both.. (Better than completing the world cup panini sticker album which, i did in both 86 and 90). He has already removed enough of my cynicism to include this paragraph.. and I feel pretty sure that I’m going to be good at this .. because as shit, disorganised and pathetically inept as I am.. it is beyond important to me that Charlie comes to no harm. and that, as far as I can make out, is not a bad measure.
I wrote this in a sleep deprived state one Tuesday evening, when our little boy Charlie decided to close his eyes for a couple of hours, for what seemed like the first time since he’d opened them three months before. My balls were aching, I did have sunken eyes reddened by baby piss. I sat, I typed, I felt a bit better. As he stirred, I hit the ‘post’ button and sent what I’d written to get trampled underfoot in the social-media parade of shocked-looking cats, dick-pics and photographs of what Auntie Pat had for her tea.
The following day I logged back on to find that the post had been shared a hundred times. Later that day it was a thousand, and by the end of the week it was tens of thousands. It was shared by bloggers, vloggers and even movie stars like Ashton Kutcher. I started to get requests for interviews from newspapers, TV and radio. Each of them asked the same question: Why did this incoherent and rambling bollocks strike a chord with parents, parents-to-be and the long haired one from “Dude, Where’s My Car?”.
I didn’t know.
So I sat and I thought. Then, I started to read through the online comments. The answer was there and it was clear. There was a reason why this particular message echoed, ..why so many could find their own experience in between the aching balls and nipple confusion, and the reason was as conclusive as it was striking.
…Most new parents haven’t got the faintest f*cking clue what they’re doing.
Sure, there are the super-parents, the bland routiners, the perfect arseholes raising their cookie-cutter children using colour-coded charts and whatever the f*ck the ‘pick up – put down’ method is.
But, that’s not us.
We are the screw-ups; the play-it-by-ear, winging-it normals; the inept, the scared, the disorganised, the immature and clueless. We have vomit on our shoulder and yellow shit under our fingernails and.. Jesus Christ, are we tired!?.. but we are Legion.
And, our kids will be the kids that other kids want to play with. They will become the adults that other adults want to have a beer with. They will be the smart ones, the creative ones, the ones that will change the world or just make it better in tiny slivers. Because, as useless and pathetically shit as we are, our children will be the best of us.
Because we give a f*ck that they can be.
…This blog’s for us lot.
Man vs Baby’s Matt Coyne is from Sheffield, South Yorkshire. In September 2015, Matt’s life was turned upside down by the arrival of his son Charlie. After three months of parenthood, he logged on to social media and wrote a viral post about his experience of having to live with ‘a furious, sleep-murdering, unstable and incontinent, breasts-obsessed midget lodger’.
Following this, Matt created Man vs Baby, which now has over 360,000 followers. And has written two Sunday Times bestselling books based on his parental triumphs and disasters, the first entitled: ‘Dummy’ and the second ‘Man vs Toddler’.
He has also written for The Guardian, The Telegraph and GQ Magazine.
Matt lives in Sheffield with his son Charlie, his partner Lyndsay and a Jack Russell terrier with ‘issues’ called Eddie.