So, it's happened, you're a dad.
Yet, as the euphoria fades and the reality of day to day life with children settles, it's likely that you've had some concerns about your body. Perhaps you've noticed that it's changed a little of late? Maybe you're not the athlete you once were? Have you discovered hair in places you never dreamed of?
Don't worry, it's all perfectly normal.
Like a fat caterpillar transitioning into a glorious flamboyant butterfly, your pre-children physique has transformed into something completely different:
THE DAD BODY!
Here's your handy Out Of Depth Dad guide to the new body that you're currently residing within.
1: Things change
Nothing (with the possible exception of any episode of ITV1's Loose Women) goes on forever. It's the same with your body. You may have thought you'd be that Brad Pitt look-alike until your dying day, but sadly that's not going to happen. In fact, if you take a long hard look in the mirror you'll now see that you look more like Brad Pitt on HIS dying day. Something has happened to your body - it's wilted quicker than a bag of supermarket salad.
'How did this happen?' I hear you cry!
Simply put, becoming a dad unlocks a special part of your brain that encourages you to let your body go to crap.
It's a tale as old as time.
2: People see things differently.
So, how did you not notice the sudden arrival of The Dad Body? Frankly, you were too tired to even care. Looking after a baby is one long cycle of pooey nappies, feeds and secretly eating entire cans of Pringles in one sitting - when you think nobody is looking. The strange thing is, Mother Nature (in her infinite wisdom) decided to put dads in denial about The Dad Body until it was far too late to do anything about it - anything easy, that didn't require getting up from the sofa, at least!
So, for all those months you've been holding your kid and seeing yourself as an Athena model when you look in the mirror, you've actually been in denial about looking more like Eric Pickles' kid brother.
Don't worry, it's not your fault. Nature and the purveyors of a whole array of delicious salty snacks were scheming against you. What were you to do?
3: You can only suck your tummy in for so long...
At some point every recipient of The Dad Body must bite the bullet and embrace their new physique. You need to learn to love the new, more capacious, you. It's hard to suck your tummy in, 24 hours a day, for months at a time. So the time finally comes when you must let your tummy out*.
Do it. You owe it to yourself.
*Be sure not to do this in a confined area - as people may be injured by the ricochet effect your newly unleashed gut has as it lurches for freedom.
4: Budgie Smugglers
Traditionally, new recipients of The Dad Body go through 'Rites of Passage'. Once the dad gut is released, and you're no longer able to see your toes, fathers the world over invest in one item of clothing - tiny swimming trunks.
We're not entirely sure what attracts recent Dad Body converts to the tiniest shorts known to humanity. Some say that the part of the brain that traditionally guides taste and embarrassment is short-circuited when the male passes into The Dad Body phase. Whatever the truth is, it's important that all dads find themselves a pair of budgie smugglers. Especially tiny pairs of trunks are available for especially chunky dads with nothing to write home about in the downstairs department.
Consult your local friendly sports' retailer to discover which set of trunks suits you least - then buy them.
5: The MAMIL
Of late, a second option, beyond the requisite budgie smugglers, has gone on offer for fully paid up members of The Dad Body club. Many dads are now turning to cycling* to show off their total lack of physique. These Middle Aged Men in Lycra can be spotted up and down the country - occasionally in possession of a bike. So if the Speedo is too much for you, why not consider shoe-horning yourself into a spandex bodysuit that leaves literally nothing to the imagination. It's the perfect way to embrace your Dad Body and embarrass the hell out of your kids.
*Note. Don't worry, actually cycling is an optional extra. Most MAMILs (like me) in possession of The Dad Body merely put on the kit and drink lattes outside coffee shops.
6: Hair today
As you familiarize yourself with your newly acquired Dad Body, you'll notice that you now have hair in places you didn't expect. Hair shoulders, knuckles, ears, noses and ridiculous eyebrows are all part and parcel of entering The Dad Body state. There are two ways to go with these new forest like patches erupting from your body.
i) Most dads pretend it's not happening and focus on finding the perfect pair of swimming trunks.
ii) Some dads turn to waxing. This painful method of hair removal requires entering (of all things to strike fear in a man's heart) 'A Salon'. The back wax is most popular for owners of The Dad Body, yet other options are available. Why not consider 'The Back, Sack and Crack'? I'm told it's the closest thing to the pain of labour a man can go through - so it may bring you closer to your partner.
Many will tell you that a thing called 'Exercise' is the best way for men to revert back to their pre-Dad Body state. These people are liars! 'Exercise' was invented in the 1970s by the government in an effort to thin down the number of people surviving to a pensionable age.
If you must exercise, make sure you get involved in an activity like Golf - essentially a walk and a chat with a particularly heavy bag. Squash is to be avoided at all costs. Any game named after a children's drink is not a good idea.
8: The exceptions...
You'll notice that there are a very few men, who don't develop into The Dad Body stage on having children. Instead they maintain flat stomachs and have muscles. Don't be confused, these exceptions are the weirdos - not you. These unnatural types inject themselves with unicorn placentas, commune with unholy spirits and do even weirder things like eat vegetables.
If you find yourself having a chat with an exception (he'll be called 'Brad' or 'Rob') just nod and smile and get away from him as soon as you can. Be assured, they may have non-dad bodies, but they're not happy.
So there's my OODD guide to The Dad Body.
I'll end with a reminder, next time you're feeling bad about your dad physique remember a wise man once said:
"It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a man with a Dad Body to walk past McDonalds."
Give yourself a break - you're doing great!
The Out of Depth Dad