In the time it takes you to read this sentence there have been about 22 babies born worldwide. Go on, read it again. That's another 22.
That's 22 new lives, 22 sets of sleepless nights, 22 nappies filled with weird sticky black poo, 22 gross stubs of umbilical cord. 44 parents (there or thereabouts) starting or continuing their journey of being a mum or a dad.
It also means there will be 22 babies raised by parents who (hopefully) love them, who have their faces and names etched onto their hearts. The way those 22 babies will be brought up will differ from family to family, but it is all done through love.
And that's what we should all remember, I think. Every family will raise their child differently, but at the heart of it all is love, and all too often that's overlooked by those with differences of opinion. The yelling across social media can all too often suffocate the good intentions behind other parents' decisions.
Now I know it's healthy to debate different points of view, but I can't help but wonder if by doing so we quickly lose sight of the fact that every mum and dad wants the best for their child.
Because that's what we're all trying to do: our best. Some days it's easier than others; one day you feel like a failure, the next like you've got this whole parenting thing nailed down.
We all have good days and bad days, and different ways of raising our children. And so, if you read about a parent who is trying out controlled crying, or deciding to formula feed, resist the urge to cast judgement.
We're all the product of our parents, how they raised us, and it's our obligation to learn from them – from their qualities and their mistakes – and pass our wisdom on to our children without judging others.
We're all in the same boat, one in which we're just trying to do our very best in the face of social pressure and conflicting opinions. The title of my column is – well, was – a bit of a wild goose chase, really. There's no such thing as figuring out fatherhood; like all parenting, it's just a case of constant trial and error, a bit of winging it, never quite feeling in control but loving every step of the way.
And so, if you're having one of those days when you feel like a bad parent, take a deep breath. Refocus. Enjoy the moment: the times of chaos, the cuddles, the exhaustion, the surges of unequalled joy and unrivalled exhaustion, because each second is precious, even though it might not feel like it at the time.
And, when you pass a fellow parent in the street, struggling to control a wayward buggy or trying in vain to stop their toddler from running into the road, give them a smile. A smile that says don't worry. You're doing a great job. You've got this. Only about 18 more years until they move out.
Figuring Out Fatherhood may be ending, but you can continue to read Ben's heartfelt and hilarious articles on his blog.
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