When I joined Twitter I very quickly came across Lewis (@babberblog) and instantly learned that he and I are quite alike. He is hilarious, passionate and an excellent, honorable father.
I learned a lot from him about being a dad in the first hectic, miserable, eye-gouging, terrible months of fatherhood. Sleep deprivation does strange things to you. Lewis is the type of person who likes to help other people out. His pacifistic nature shines through when you converse with him on Twitter. He’s talked me off the edge a couple of times. He might not even know that. That’s Lewis for you. He is quite human.
I’m Lewis, I’m a distinctly average person making my way through life. I’m ticking boxes on my way through, as we all do. Last year I finally ticked one of the big ones: having a baby (not the physical act, of course, that would have been distinctly un-average).
Aside from having a small human to look after, I also have a wife, a house, a car, lots of bicycles, a healthy appetite and a scraggly beard.
I blog about stuff, mainly the baby, but also other things that interest me. I’d love you to come and say hello. Validate me.
What inspired you to start blogging?
Blogging is one of those things I had felt like I ought to do for years. I’m a gifted procrastinator, so I’d never got around to actually doing anything about it. It was a quiet murmur in the back of my head, which occasionally got a bit louder.
When my wife was seven months pregnant with Cam I had a week off work on my own, which I used to indulge myself in all the hobbies I thought I would probably have to put aside for a while once the baby arrived. I also listened to the murmur which was suggesting that blogging would be a hobby I could keep doing.
I’d also spent some time reading sites like Bounty and Netmums, and not engaging with them at all. I had no idea there were so many great blogs out there, which is good, because if I’d found them I’d have been too intimidated to start my own.
What is the one thing you hope to achieve with your writing?
To provoke a reaction in whoever reads it. It’s what I want when I read other people’s words too. I don’t mind too much what the reaction is. Laughing’s a good one. Crying would work for me too. Thinking about something that wouldn’t normally register.
Obviously, if someone wanted to pay me to write, that’d be just fine…
What characteristics for you, based on what you’ve learned, make a good Father?
There are so many, and I’ve barely got started yet.
Early on, I was glad I’m a patient man. Babies don’t set out to wind you up, I don’t think, but they’re very good at doing it. Battling through the mental effects of having less sleep than you’ve had since you were a baby yourself, patience and tolerance are essential. No matter how many people tell you how difficult a newborn can be, no-one gets it until it happens.
One I feel is really important, but that I could do with working on, is feeling comfortable making a fool of yourself regardless of the situation. I’m a shy sort, and easily embarrassed. I don’t always find it easy to be effusive and “fun” in public with Cam. I hate feeling like I’m being looked at, and people tend to look at you when you’re busting out your best baby entertainment moves.
As time goes on, I’ll be looking to emulate the characteristics I saw and continue to see in my own father. He’s a quiet, gentle, fair, honest man. If I can be as much of a father to Cam as he has been to me, I’ll be doing a damn good job.
How close is your online personality to your real life persona?
The protection we’re afforded by our keyboards, monitors and the physical separation of the internet all mean it’s very easy to fabricate a completely different life for yourself online. That’s fine, if you let people know that’s what you’re doing. If you’re a blogger and you’re not telling the truth, I don’t want to read that.
I don’t make any attempt to be anything online which I’m not in real life. I want to be honest, I want to be thoughtful, compassionate and kind. I want the people I interact with online to feel that there’s value in those interactions. I think the connections and friendships we make which start online are just as important and “real” as those which start offline.
All that said, I’m quieter in real life and I’m not confident talking to people I don’t know. I had to make a conscious effort to overcome that when I joined Twitter. I’m happier putting words in writing than verbalising, so it wasn’t as difficult as I’d feared.
So, I guess, “pretty close” sums it up.
What do you hope Cam learns from reading your blog (when he’s able to read)?
He’s going to read it? Shit. Erm.
I didn’t write it for him to read, really. If he does decide to, I hope he’ll learn that I’ve loved him from the very first moment. Actually, I hope he’ll know that already.
Describe one moment of your parenting in which you’ve felt “a bit of a twat”?
I feel like a twat when my tolerance reservoir runs low. When Cam has managed to rile me and I’ve got to the point where I feel like I love him, but I don’t like him.
He then makes me feel even worse by doing something really sweet to make friends with me again, usually a particularly coy game of “peepo”.
That makes me feel an utter twat, because all the blame lays with me, and there he is being the bigger man.
What is your favourite piece of writing that you’ve written?
A while back I wrote a short piece of fiction and posted it on the blog. It was the first time I’d written anything like that in about ten years.
All my blog posts are hastily scrawled in a lunch break, so it was nice to spend a bit more time on something. To think about it. To finish a draft and think “no, not right” and go back and change it rather than just posting it anyway.
It’s nothing special, but quite a few people commented on it in a positive way and some of those were people whose own writing I really admire. That made me feel good.
If I had more time, I’d love to write more fiction. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to.
What inspires you to write? What inspires you in general?
I love words. I’m a bit of a word geek. I’ve always loved writing and I find it a more comfortable way to communicate than speaking. So the thing that inspires me to write is a love for writing. Usefully, this also means I can find myself writing about any old thing and still enjoying it.
In general, I’m inspired by people. People who achieve things which I think are good things, invent things I think are worthwhile, overcome things I imagine I’d find insurmountable.
I once took a psychometric test which told me that altruism was one of my strongest drivers. So I’m inspired by a desire to help other people. I quite like that, although it does come with its own set of awkward questions.
Lastly if you could offer any new parent one piece of advice what would it be?
I think the most important thing is to trust in yourself. Nobody goes into parenting with all the answers, no matter how hard some people try to make you think they have some magical manual at their disposal. Trust that everything you do out of love for your child is very likely to be the right thing. Of course there’ll be mistakes, but we all make them.
Being a parent is hard enough, without trying to be a perfect one.
Before I go, I want to say a huge thank you to Sam for inviting me to answer his questions (and for putting up with how long it took me to do so, it’s an honour to have some of my words on one of my favourite blogs.)
Lewis makes being a dad look easy. If I was a brand new father I’d follow him on twitter for sure @babberblog. Read his blog. There are some excellent pieces of writing in there. This is my favourite at the moment. There are beards within it.