This week marks the four month milestone of me becoming a Dad for the first time to my beautiful little girl, Willow.

There’s plenty to be said about the experiences I’ve had in such a short space of time; the emotions, the memories, and the moments that change your life completely. But there’s something I never anticipated. You have probably heard people say “oh they grow up so quickly”. Well, it’s true, and it happens at warp speed whether you are ready or not!

Me and my wife Jodie welcomed our little girl on a very cold December 22nd last year. I think Jodie will always agree the labour part was definitely in real time.  Before we knew it, she was a day old and we were on our way home (slowest driver on the road – actually it was the slowest part of this whole experience). I still remember that amazing newborn baby smell, and how scared I was to even move her because she looked so small and fragile – sort of like a glass ornament in a shop with no price tags. I had to pick her up, but with the utmost caution and care.

Suddenly, Willow was two weeks old! Those two weeks seemed like a century. There was crying and sleep deprivation, and it was comparable to a 14 day advanced math exam in terms of things we had to learn. Once you bring your head up for air, you find that period of time you thought would never end is not only over, but it was last month, whoa.

That brings us to the end of a one full month. Wow, we’ve made it, it was now 2017! We actually felt confident in ourselves. I went from never changing a nappy to reaching at least a 100 milestone on that, and getting the merit badge for my first ‘Poonami’. It’s a shame there isn’t one for the second, third, forth…you get the point. But there was a moment there where we felt like real parents and not just baby survival experts. But the clock didn’t stop. Not for one second.

Keep going to six weeks and BAM, first smile. Luckily I was playing with the camera at the exact moment! My daughter smiled at me. Time stopped for a good few moments so I could take it in. That smile could stop a supernova!

Once I was back at work, I really missed those 40+ hours a week with my favourite girls. That’s when the grains of sand really started to move. I’m holding on to every second like I’m hanging on to a supersonic jet. Willow was now cooing, babbling, giggling, and smiling. She outgrew the newborn clothes. And those 0-3 month clothes we panic bought? Suddenly they were too small. My two month old baby was a little girl now. Where did that scary newborn go?!

We had our first family holiday together. It seemed like seconds, but I remember every single one. Then the time warped. We were sleeping well at night ( emphasis “were“; we’ve recently welcomed the first bout of teething. What was sleep again?). I was working and Jodie was working too (24/7 parenting is one hell of a job). We were generally getting back to the normal day to day life. Willow had become one of us and we started living like it, too.

Days out meeting family, coffee dates, shopping trips, and walks through the forest. We’re becoming a family and wow, it seems like all the times we thought would never end were now three months gone.

That brings me to the present day. While my little girl sleeps tonight, I’m writing about the last few months like it was yesterday. In some strange paradox, a time that feels like it has passed almost instantly also seems like it was such an incredibly long story. Parenthood is an amazing, yet terrifying experience. We go to school for years to learn a variety of subjects. However, it seems simply having a daughter has taught me so much more already. I have different priorities, a whole new outlook, and one beautiful family to call mine. Even though the time is flying by, as long as it continues to be this extraordinary, I look forward to the ride.

One piece of advice; capture every moment but live it as well. Sure, a photograph can take you back to that moment in time that was so precious, but nothing replaces being there and being a part of that memory. Those are irreplaceable and really define you as a father, husband/partner and individual.

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Tim Clarke
First time father to a daughter, husband, photographer and lover of all things coffee. Baby/Dad/Family Blogger.