David Frazer writes about how he’s coping with new fatherhood on the wrong side of 50 and with the unexpected over-abundance of not one late-life baby, but two.
By David Frazer
I woke this morning at 5 am to the sound of my baby twins screaming. I was having a nightmare about Donald Trump winning the presidency; happy to be awake and realise it was just a dream. I turned the TV on for the twins, so I’d have a moment to make myself a coffee. The station was still on the news station and to my horror, there he was. Trump actually had won the presidency. I turned the station over to the kids’ station, which was only marginally more tolerable.
My wife had endured another tough night. My end of the bargain that allows me to escape to another room to sleep is to then mind the babies all morning, so my wife can get some rest. The downside is I work from home and so half my day is lost. The upside is that I’m able to bond and connect with my babies, Thomas and Evelyn, now 20 months young; something a lot of dads don’t get. But I still find it frustrating at times.
The other problem is I’m 50 years old. Whoever said babies keep you young was an idiot! I physically feel like I’m 80!
So how did this happen? I recently got married again, I found a good wife. I had been married before, it didn’t work out but we did produce two lovely boys who are now 9 and 11. I share custody 50/50 and everyone is pretty happy. My new wife is 12 years younger than me and really wanted a baby. I couldn’t say no. I didn’t for one second consider having two at once though! (Also, we’d only been married a couple of months after a reasonably short romance and I wouldn’t have minded a bit longer trying to conceive!)
Was it smart to have the twins at my age? Once you have them you can’t imagine life without them, and I’m sure it’s better when you’re old that you’ve had children. It does put a strain on the relationship, but if you’re in a good one it kind of strengthens it in a way. If you’re into each other, and work together, on the domestic tasks as well as the parenting, it can be special.
The most unexpected thing has been the mixed emotions. My feelings jump around. I’m guessing its because I’ve turned 50, and I’m pretty sure that the fact I’m fairly neurotic has played a big part, that I have anxiety and I’m terrified of death and disease. I can’t help staring down the declining path. I look at my twins and of course I find myself doing the numbers: when they’re off my hands I’ll be, like, nearly 70. It freaks me out a bit.
And I feel it, I feel fatigued and my joints hurt. I know half my problem is my attitude; I’m a glass half empty guy. In the past this has worked for me in getting a laugh, but now it’s just getting tiresome. I don’t know how to change it though. Permanently positive people really give me the shits. I do try to remind myself regularly how lucky I am, and that does often help.
The other emotion is love. As a second-time-around father over 50, I can unequivocally say that I do adore my kids, and my wife; it’s just seems that a bit of depression has joined in for the ride. Anxiety and worry are the others. A friend recently said, ‘Isn’t it good having kids, as all your worries go into worrying about them and not yourself?’ Well, I said no, I still worry about myself, I’ve just added more people to worry about. My worry seems to have no limits. I know it’s nuts – imagine when the kids start driving!
The other thing that contributes to my anxiety is climate change. I like to think my children will enjoy a good life on this beautiful, healthy planet. Yet things could become scary and unpleasant if you believe some of the predictions and I have no reason not to. I feel bad that we don’t seem to be doing enough to not let this happen for the future generations. Nature, I find, is a great comfort, so the prospect of climate change and its grim forecasts fill me with dread and threatens the one thing that relieves my ‘meaning of life’ anxiety. I find it all extremely depressing. Maybe I am depressed?
Still, we humans are amazing. We usually soldier on, no matter what. We get up in the morning and do stuff, work in the garden, clean the house, go for a walk. Even if most things become a grind, we still try to find enjoyment in life. (I actually do all these things so I guess I’m not really depressed.) We mostly try to find enjoyment in life and I certainly try to have fun with the kids and, despite my grim outlook, they do give me so much joy. I also suspect that babies or not, I’d probably still be depressed and anxious (I could even be worse?), and if I hadn’t had them I wouldn’t have the joy of seeing two smiling toddlers as I miserably stumble into the house at the end of the day and hear them call out ‘daddy!’ with such happiness and love.
It reminds me that, actually, I am a very lucky man!