Women become mothers long before their baby is ever born, as we have to change our diets, our exercise routines, our sleeping habits, and even our clothes as our body adjust to a growing baby. When that baby is finally born, it brings a rush of emotions, including love for the little one you’ve felt kicking and squirming inside you. But for dads, the experience can be a little different. New dad Kit Harington opened up about a rarely-discussed feeling many dads can relate to, and it’s spot on.
“We are now becoming more involved in child raising and as a modern father, there is a real feeling of being a bystander at times,” Harington told PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly at their photo and video studio at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival on September 10. He shares a 19-month-old baby boy with his Game of Thrones co-star and wife Rose Leslie.
This “bystander” feeling can leave dads a little helpless, as they don’t know as much about the new baby’s needs as their partner does.
“You are not actively involved in the process of growing the child and there can be a real feeling of not knowing what is going on, what emotions are happening, what the mother or your partner is going through,” he said, adding there was “real catharsis” in his new movie, Baby Ruby. “My baby boy was about 4 months or 5 months old when we filmed this, so I had just come out of the process that these two [characters] find themselves in of early parenthood, so I was literally exploring that in this movie. That was a big reason for wanting to do it.”
“There was something in Bess [Wohl, the film’s director’s] work that I responded to which was this feeling of being told you’ll instantly love your child, you’ll instantly love this baby. I knew I was going to care for the baby I had, but I don’t know whether it was instant love. It was a stranger that had been planted into my house, now I had to look after the stranger, and the stranger was keeping me up all night. It takes time to grow love, to get to know someone.”
This is so true. Parents — especially first-time parents — can feel so overwhelmed when bringing a new baby home. Suddenly, your entire lives are upended as you get to know this new person’s likes, dislikes, routines, and habits on little-to-no sleep. You have to take care of this “stranger” who, yes, is a baby, but still. You’re up all night, you’re tired, someone is crying and pooping … it’s a lot. Not finding that “insta-love” — or even knowing exactly what to do — with your newborn is completely normal (yes, even for moms!), and it’s so refreshing to see Harington shining a light on this common issue.
Now though, things are much better. He called the process of getting to know his baby “beautiful,” adding, “My boy’s 19 months now so he’s tottering around just naming things, he goes around saying ‘curtain’ or ‘carpet,’ he just likes impressing you with his knowledge. It’s the most astonishing thing, it really is.”
In July 2021, the Modern Love actor talked to Access about how monumental having a baby is. “I think the thing that’s surprised me most is, you know, they tell you but they don’t; everyone goes, ‘Look, it’s big. What you’re about to go through is big.’ And you have no way of knowing that until it happens,” he said, per PEOPLE. “Then what surprises you is you go, ‘Oh, this goes on forever!’ You don’t get a break from it. You’re just like … every day I wake up and look after this little human and now we’re part of a unit together.”
The truth is, nobody has parenting totally figured out. And even if you think you do, your kid will suddenly enter a new phase, and you’ll be lost all over again. That’s OK! The important thing is you’re making an effort, like Harington, and eventually, it all gets easier.
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