Saturday, January 23, 2010

Where did my vanity go?

Before becoming a Dad, I had given various reasons for not having a cycle helmet, probably something to do with a restrictive strap or the extortionate cost of a lump of polystyrene. These reasons never really came close to why I truly rejected wearing a cycle helmet, and I suspect the unacknowledged reason why many people don't wear them, vanity.

Vanity, it seems, is one of the first casualties of parenthood. It started the very first morning, when we all left the maternity ward; unkempt 48hrs-without-sleep-bed-head hair, crumpled and creased clothes, bags under the eyes and a beautifully perfect baby in our arms. After nine months, and when I think have shaken off this loss of vanity, I am brought acutely back to reality- such as arriving at work, starting to deliver a lesson, and on removing my jacket finding dried, and by then brown, mushed banana, super glued to the cuffs of my shirt. Mrs Domestic Goddess Incorporated has been affected by this loss of vanity too, the ceramic straighteners that were once part of her daily routine now lie dusty and unused on the dressing table in our bedroom. She has replaced them with many ingenious methods of keeping her hair up.

Vanity had always stopped me from wearing a helmet, but on that morning when we first left the hospital as a family, something in me changed. My perception of my place in the world had changed, I now had a responsibility to someone other than myself and Mrs Domestic Goddess Incorporated. In order to be able to be there to protect Little Dude from harm, I now had to protect myself from injury.

Now my helmet is a badge of honour and my vanity has been replaced with pride. Yes, I put it on because it will stop my head from ricocheting off the road in the case of an accident, but when I wear it, to me it represents my fatherhood, it means I'm a Dad and proud of it.

Plus, it doesn't mess up my hair half as much as I thought it would...