The Truth About Fatherhood: Tim Pike, photographer

being a dad

“Before embarking on parenthood, I wish I’d been told to completely forget being selfish – you are no longer afforded the luxury.” Tim Pike, father to a seven-year-old stepdaughter and three-year-old son, talks fatherhood with The Early Hour…

Tim Pike, 43, lives in Hertford, Herts, with his partner Louise, stepdaughter, aged seven, and son, aged three.

“I didn’t plan on having a family. Henry was a surprise, but a delightful one. He was born by c-section, so we knew our exact birth date. My partner Louise was probably far calmer about it all than me. She seemed to take it all in her stride, as she always does in trying times… being a somewhat naïve bloke about things, I don’t think I was quite prepared for the drama.

I think there is a danger of over researching, when it comes to childbirth. I felt comfortable in knowing enough to offer as much support as I was able. Let’s face it; it’s not about us chaps really on the big day…

My memories of the early days with Henry are of juggling, trying to teach an older sibling about the new arrival whilst also being mindful of including her, and the endless washing. I recall seeking refuge in the kitchen and providing food for the family. Looking back, I’m pretty sure this was my attempt to seek solace in something that I could feel fully in control of.

Fatherhood, in a sentence: a heady cocktail of frustration, tiredness and overwhelming pride

Henry fell into a sleep pattern pretty quickly, so we were very lucky on that front. Louise was pretty much sofa-bound for what seemed like weeks after the birth due to the operation, so that was difficult for her. That along with the hilariously inept healthcare worker that was assigned to us – we shared some moments of dark humour over her visits.

Being self-employed/contracting, I wasn’t afforded the luxury of extended paternity leave, sadly. I was juggling photography with assisting, and some IT contracting. Full on plate spinning…

Before embarking on parenthood, I wish I’d been told to completely forget being selfish – you are no longer afforded the luxury

I’m not sure having Henry affected my relationship with Louise either positively or negatively – the teamwork simply saw us through.

I expected an ‘Oh my god’ moment, that I had heard other fathers speak of – the moment of realisation at a sometimes inopportune moment that supposedly hits you. I’m still waiting for mine.

My advice to expectant parents is: take advice from ‘text books’ and ‘baby experts’ very loosely. A small bundle of human life throws you far too many curve balls to have the process pinned down by others’ opinions. And forget ‘popping’ anywhere anymore – mobilising children is something akin to the D-Day landings, with almost as much kit.

If I could go back in time, I’d do some additional financial planning, and definitely finding a way to enjoy more paternity leave.

The greatest challenge I face, as a father, is that I hope I can always provide for him, but fear I may not be able to. But what makes it all worthwhile is the simplest of things – twenty minutes of boys’ time with Lego just before he goes to bed.”