Hi, my name is Zak and welcome to Psyched To Be A Dad, a blog about my day to day life as a father, where I try to make sense of the craziness that is parenting.
I am a father, husband, huge fan of manga, anime and comics, car enthusiast, DIY newbie and enjoy a game of basketball here and there. I also happen to be a psychologist with experience working with parents and their children, which you would think might help me understand parenting and kids a bit better. Sure it comes in handy sometimes, but most of the time I find it best to just make it up as I go!
My Pre-Dad life…
I sometimes reminisce on life before my daughter came along, trying to recall long-lost memories of going out without restrictions, making choices without having to consider being responsible for a little human, even watching what I wanted on TV without always having to put on the Wiggles! The fragments I am able to piece together paint the picture of a man who enjoyed gaming, keeping up to date with the latest movies and having regular geek chats about anime, comics, pop culture and anything else along those lines. I also recall memories of enjoying dinners out with my wife, going somewhere after for dessert and going on adventures overseas. A time I took for granted!
Don’t get me wrong, being a dad is great and I am Psyched To Be A Dad, but I was not prepared. And although now I know you can’t ever be prepared, I didn’t know that back then and in my pre-dad over confidence (or maybe ignorance?) I thought ‘she’ll be right!’ See, I always knew I wanted to be a dad, but that was always gonna be something I dealt with later. I was more focused on the next holiday, the next movie, the next game or the next step in my career. There was too much else to think about, let alone thoughts of fatherhood!
And then my wife and I began talking about having a kid and how great it would be and how much we wanted one. Sure we ‘knew’ it would be difficult, but it couldn’t be that hard right? I mean we’ve all had sleepless nights before? and we had sought the honest truth from other parents so we thought we had a pretty clear picture of what to expect. So my wife fell pregnant, and we began shopping for the nursery, me doing my research, refreshing myself on child development and parenting strategies, all the while trying to figure out which nappy, which clothing material, which baby wipe would be best for our child, having no idea what was in store for us…
And then baby came along, such a joyous moment, I felt so proud. We had both been up for over 24hrs, my wife was exhausted but here was our little girl. We bonded, did skin on skin time, made our way back to the hospital room, and then the midwife left us with our daughter. All of a sudden I felt a bit of panic kick in. What do we do now? What do I do now? My wife has just pushed out this human being, she’s exhausted and needs sleep, so now I need to step up, but how do I step up? Where’s the help? Where’s all that knowledge I had from everything I read?
And I think I had lots of these moments from the birth until now. Sure it has decreased over time as I’ve become more confident in my own decisions, but that’s the thing I’ve realised from being a father, it’s essentially a lot of moments of ‘I don’t know what the f@%^ I’m doing!?’ and then winging it hoping for the best. And the more successes we have, the more confident we feel. But there is that flip side, because when we don’t have success, we feel demotivated and run the risk of not wanting to try again. I know I felt like that a few times, and it was challenging trying to get back up and try again.
I also found that while there are some really good resources out there for dads, it is far outnumbered by the resources out there for mums. And with further research going into understanding how fatherhood changes a man (both physiologically and mentally), and the increased understanding around perinatal depression in men, I thought that by sharing my experience, it will at least give dads another experience, another insight into fatherhood. And sure, my experience is unique to me and not everyone will be able to relate to everything I experience, but I think there are a few themes that are universal across fatherhood and parenting.
I’m Still Trying To Make Sense Of It All…
So my journey into fatherhood keeps going on, and it’s still a crazy experience. But I still want to make as much sense of my day to day experiences as possible. So as much as I want to share my experiences in the hopes that someone may be able to relate, I also want to help others to understand the ‘why’ behind these experiences, so we can see that these experiences aren’t only normal because they are shared by a lot of parents out there, but that from a psychological perspective, it’s also very normal as well.
So if you can relate, that’s great, if you learn something from my experiences, then even better. And while this blog is intended for general advice and insight into my life, hopefully you get something out of Psyched To Be A Dad. And if you ever want to leave a comment or ask a question, please feel free to do so.
All the best,
Psyched To Be A Dad