A year or so ago the world went trending crazy for the ‘dad bod’. It was all very sudden, after a couple of supposed Hollywood heartthrobs such as Chris Pratt made it acceptable (slash sexy?) to carry a spare tyre round the ol’ midriff.
Dads around the world rejoiced and more importantly, exhaled, releasing the suppressed pudge held together by a once slack belt. Chiselled six packs out, six sacks in – hallelujah!
But for any soon-to-be dads out there, or new dads (congrats), talk of the now acceptable dad bod only seems to focus on the belly, most likely brought on by having less time to hit the gym and more time to hit the binge drinking at home – boozing away the tantrums and stress thrown your way by a knee-high tyrant. But as well as the flabby belly, there are a few other physical alterations to prepare yourself for in the coming months and years.
I’m dad to a 3-year-old daughter who is half-WWE Wrestler, half Usain Bolt and a 9-month-old son who is half-crab, half Spiderman. Keeping up with them for 12 hours a day is tough, tougher than my mid-thirties body thought it would be.
Yep, there’s no getting away from it, book yourself in for a back-op for twenty-years time right now. The constant ache and stiffness literally never leaves. Whether you’re carrying a child around town, bending down repeatedly to tidy up toys at home, hunched over by a sling, constantly kicked to the side of the bed in the middle of the night (by child who’s somehow joined you), carting an arsenal of equipment to and from the car or up and down the stairs, building never-ending kid’s furniture or bent over a bath, it all adds up to really test the that once flexible and sturdy spine. Karma, I suppose, for your better half having to carry the equivalent of a small asteroid in their belly for nine months.
To be honest, there’s no excruciating pain, you’ll still be mobile, you’ll just find yourself as stiff as Stick Man and it’ll take longer to manoeuver, twist or do any of the above once-easy tasks. Your 21-one-year-old self would whizz around the house picking up Lego and dinosaurs, now, as a dad, such trivial movements feel like they’re going in super-slow motion. If only the deterioration of the back could slow down a little.
Sounds a bit weird, but when you’re not buggering up your back, you’ll be on all fours buggering up your knees. Years of this low level shuffling, inevitably leads to an unsightly rawness on those knobbly joints.
My knees now unfortunately resemble a piece of tatty old sandpaper that should have been chucked in the bin ages ago. Years of playing and tidying up have given me dry, dusty, pale kneecaps that no amount of moisturiser or photo filter can save.
Bye bye dear barnet
Most of my friends are now dads and most of my friends are now losing their hair, including yours truly. Ok, this could be age related, genetics, family history or just bad luck but I for one can confirm that since becoming a dad and facing the day-to-day antics that goes with it, my hair is rapidly changing (ok, disappearing).
My hairline is rapidly heading backwards whilst I have the start of bald patch at the crown too. Add to this the all-over thinning and I know that in the next couple of years, I might have to make an appointment with my grade one clippers and live out the rest of my years wondering if a Bobby Charlton comb over might suit me.
As I said, this could be down to something else altogether, but I do know for a fact that one of the main causes of hair loss is said to be stress and having a child can be rather trying in the stress stakes. My daughter Edie, when she’s not being an Instagram dreamboat, is the biggest madam in the world, capable of torturous yells that can be heard as far as Never, Never Land. Then there’s my young son Arlo who could be surrounded by a million toys but would much rather try his best to throw himself off the TV stand or head first into a radiator thermostat – ouch. Every time there’s a furniture head-butt from Arlo or house shaking scream from Edie, I can hear tiny violins playing in my hair as the remaining few strands wave goodbye to yet another failing follicle…
Ok, whilst your back and knees might struggle with the endless onslaught a child inflicts, one positive from of all this lifting, is the gun show. Woah, who’s that guy in the mirror? Arnold Schwarzenegger? No, it’s you and your massive arms the size of wildebeests. Ok, mine aren’t quite on that level, but they’ve definitely grown at least a millimetre or so in the last few years. Impressive I think you’ll agree.
So, us dads now combine the stance of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, with knees that belong to a 1930s footballer, receding hair and humungous upper arms – attractive! That’s pretty much the dad bod. But to round it all off you will need a…
As a dad, and to complete your dad bod, you WILL grow a beard. It’s the law. If it’s not full-on wizard length, then there will definitely be a constant low level of face fuzz. Before being a dad, you might have considered your beard as trendy or called the slightest speckle of stubble ‘designer’, now it’s just down to not having the time to groom and actually, just not giving a shit. There are more important things to worry about than keeping our face carpets under control – will your child sleep through? What is that rash? Why is George called George and all the other characters in Peppa Pig use alliteration?
Standards have well and truly slipped, just look down and see that well publicised beer belly for proof. So, maybe we’re not quite as beautiful as we once were, but that’s ok, we’re dads, and that really is beautiful.