Ryan hits fatherhood for a six

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MARINÉ JACOBS

If you ask renowned cricketer Ryan McLaren what the greatest highlight of his life has been so far, what do you think he would say? Playing for the Proteas? Scoring 25 runs for the Eagles at debut? Maybe going out for the SA u.19 side during the 2001 World Cup? “To see my wife give birth to our child. Fatherhood has given me perspective of what is important in life,” he however responded. Bambini had a chat with Ryan on fatherhood, making family decisions and the dreaded nappy change!

Ryan and his beautiful wife Candice are the proud parents of Kyron Matthew McLaren, a wonderfully happy seven-month-old that appears to be a perfect mixture of mom and dad. “As parents we found agreeing on a boy’s name took a bit longer. We wanted names that portrayed strength and character and tried to avoid names that would result in him being teased,” explains Ryan. “Kyron means leader and Matthew means gift from God.”

According to Ryan, he was very excited about Kyron’s arrival and not really nervous about becoming a father. Of course, he and Candice did their fair share of preparation, attending prenatal classes and reading books. “I think these were good to give you a guide as to what to expect, but I don’t think there is much that can prepare you as parent when your son lies in your arms for the first time,” says Ryan. “Each baby is different and each parent will raise his or her child according to what they think is best for their child.” He continues to say that fatherhood is a mixture of natural instincts and learning what to do, and he knows that he will still be confronted with many scenarios that he will need to learn how to handle.

So what is the biggest challenge? “The most challenging time for me is being away from home on tour because during the first few months the baby grows so quickly. In a space of two weeks I missed out on so much of Kyron’s development.” However, Ryan says that his whole perspective on life has changed since he became a dad. When he has a bad day on the cricket field, it no longer bothers him as much as it used to. Whenever he makes decision or plans, he now considers three people and no longer just one or two. And yes, Kyron takes priority in all the decisions.

“My favourite part of being a dad is bath time,” says Ryan. He also says that Candice’s pregnancy was an easy nine months for him – without any cravings or mood swings.
“My funniest moment as a dad was the morning after Kyron was born in the hospital when I cleaned my first nappy,” laughs Ryan. “As with every first time parent, I was a bit nervous as to what ‘surprise’ was waiting for me when I opened the nappy. And, as I opened the nappy, Kyron urinated all over me!”

Clearly Ryan shines as brightly in his role as father as on the cricket pitch. “I think success in part includes unconditional love and support, trust and discipline,” he says. “If we can maintain a balance between being far enough to allow our children to experience life but close enough to guide them along the way, then, as parents, I think we have done well.”