what is our identity now we are Dads?
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Parenthood comes like a bomb blast in our lives, an emotional imposter into the shielded world of the male heart.
When my babies muttered "daddy" very early on, I pretended to be cool with it, but inside the cartwheels were turning. I was flipping out with a passion that came from a new and inexplicable place.
Im told that statistically the 'da' sound is easier so most of them do that. Im not believing a word of it, like the crazy quitters in 2016 who said we dont need experts anymore, Im blind to that nonsense. Their first words were Daddy, end of.
No longer can things be left quietly un-felt or kept calm. There is an in-built chaos and passion that sweeps us up and sometimes challenges the stable ordered and rational lives we've built up pre-children.
If you are a new Dad or you've been here for years- you will recognise these stirrings in your gut that rip up your old rule-book. Throw in sleep deprivation and its a crazy time of challenging your old identity and forging a new one in a haze of crayons and poo.
So what then is the way to not be overwhelmed by the sheer purity of the little beings and their trusting (possibly naïve) dependency on you as 'daddy'. Going round as an emotional wreck is possibly not a long term answer (I remember crying and spacing out in the supermarket isle on a few occasions) Equally going ice cool and ignoring these massive life changes, is quite obviously going to store up all sorts of grief (oops sorry probably some establishment pscho-expert said that so, Tosh!!)
It looks like we are going to have to accept this as the new normal, having a full house, full day and full heart.
“I’m inspired by the love people have for their children. And I’m inspired by my own children, how full they make my heart. They make me want to work to make the world a little bit better. And they make me want to be a better man.” Barack Obama
For several years I wondered if I had a blog in me?
For several years I wondered whether dads or men more generally could benefit from connecting better to their peers
For several years I wondered whether both of the above would lead to enhanced mental wellbeing, happiness and apple pie. I actually do love apple pie, its not just a neat phrase for me- I get defensive about the apple pies. You can see that from my waistline!
For a moment in October 2018 these wonderings came together and we launch! Gosh,
Im a stuck in the middle kind of guy- fast approaching (or in?) middle age , in the middle between two sets of kids, two teenagers and two toddlers.
Born in Beverley, East Yorkshire, growing up in Durham and being in Merseyside ever since, I'm a proud Northerner but regularly visit London for work and love it - and more to the point love my very Southern wife .
In terms of work, well after a politics degree at Liverpool University and a dabble in broadcasting I took the route through PR and marketing jobs and into the charity sector where you will find me now with my own consultancy business and I am also fundraising officer for a fantastic anti slavery charity called the Medaille Trust
Well Plato wrote that in far simpler, yet deeper-thinking times ...you know what? it might be true, but its certainly exciting to make a start on a new project. More about me in the next post(busy dad of 4 bla bla bla), but for now …..
Its fashionable to talk about vision and values, so i’ll start there ever hopeful that even a bit of it resonates with others.
The vision for this network is so that dads, grandads and other male carers can have a space to connect with one another, learn from each other - all as informally as possible (ok, ok even setting up a group with a title and meetings etc is already way too formal?!) The problem is that for many men, who aren't naturally a ‘joiner’ of things, networks and friendships, particular don't happen naturally. SO without doing something we end up doing NOTHING. We watch with interest the significant women in our lives going off to playgroup and coming home with friends! How does that happen?
There are a couple of truths that we don't always like to admit, because we are men and we have it all in hand, have a cunning plan, have never dropped a ball yet!
(1)Parenthood and maintaining a positive, healthy relationship and work-balance is hard.....and (2) we cant do it alone.
Just being human and a grown up male is hard enough some days, so we wont run away from the chance to share life enhancing, inspiring messages on here that have helped some men on the journey. Take what you need and scroll down past the rest.
But...promise that actual meet ups will be simply coffee or a pint or two away from the noise and mess of the little ones. Unashamedly social and sociable. Who knows though whether a parallel programme of courses, day trips, sport or events could happen in time- depends on some funding and interest.
At least until we are more established and can take a sounding from members we will welcome ‘likes’ from anyone to the Facebook page (ie its not a closed group limited to dads or men) So it would be lovely to have lots of our family and friends to share the vibe too.
So whether new Dad, widowed Dad, grand-dad, foster Dad, young Dad, step-Dad, single Dad, estranged Dad, Dad of 1 , adoptive Dad, or Dad of 9 - you are welcome. Join the mailing list, follow the social media
This is absolutely not a group or network which is about father’s justice in the family court system, pushing a men vs women agenda, being preachy or judgemental, fighting culture wars or the like. It doesn't mean that if these are big things in your life you wont be welcomed and heard- its just that this network wont be your vehicle. Sorry, there are plenty of other spaces.
I’ve given it a try to pin this thing down- it isn't an exhaustive list, after all it is only day 1, where everything is possible, nothing is definite and there is room for infinite creativity and growth. Actually quite a cool space to be in! maybe Plato me-old-lad was right after all!