I’m Aidan, a father of two, Max (2) and Henry (5) and yes you guessed it Max is a lockdown baby!
Fatherhood is a phenomenal experience; it’s relentless but we give it absolutely everything! And you know what? Sometimes it feels like even under immense pressure it’s never quite enough. My boys and my partner Teri are my world and like you, I’d do anything for them, I love them dearly and I treasure the bond we share together. I’ll let you into a secret…… Becoming a father is my biggest accomplishment, it’s taught me so much; I’ve learned to cherish the simple things and focus on the things that make us as a collective smile.
The thing is, it wasn’t always like it is today… I genuinely thought they were better off without me! Just after Max was born I was lost, overwhelmed and spiralling. I was supposed to celebrating but I was fighting for air! I was consumed by this wretched feeling of worthlessness! I’d been falling for a long time but for the first time I felt out of control. I longed to be a positive influence on my young family but all I felt was the weight of the world crushing my spirit.
At the time I couldn’t put my finger on why I wasn’t happy. I was consumed with trying to hide it and then my wife called me out on my behaviour. It had been a tough adjustment, lockdown, Max arriving and my eldest (An emotional whirlwind at 2 ¾ years old) kicking off every night! On this particular day I’d not been thinking straight. I’d gone from a Dad in control to a Dad on the verge of a full blown breakdown and when Henry didn’t go to sleep we took a drive. I drove around for an hour and when he finally went to sleep I drove home, crept upstairs and put him to bed. I made my way downstairs and sat down on the sofa in silence opposite my wife. She rightly wanted to know what was wrong but I couldn’t answer. How could I tell her I wanted to give up. The silence filled the room and I was praying she’d let it go. I was clinging on and without considering the consequence or the power of the words I was about to use I blurted out “I can’t cope, I don’t want to be alive anymore!”
BANG! The force of the language I used hit her full on. The utter shock was etched across her face. The disbelief quickly turned to anger as the tears rolled down her cheeks, her breath quickened, the words had ripped through her. I’d crushed her dreams and our reality in a moment. Our son was 9 days old and here I was admitting how worthless I felt. I consoled her, it was like I’d already been lost and I was a ghost haunting her. I could see the pain in her eyes as she sobbed as our little man lay across her lap peacefully. I could see her mind racing, I could see her looking through me, planning a life where I wasn’t there, raising our children every day to the memory of the man she loved. Her reaction stirred something in me and the weight I’d carried started to lift. Yes, my action was selfish, but the impact was far less than committing that unspeakable act. The rawness of the moment subsided, as we talked it dawned on me that I had the strength to carry on, and the motivation to choose to fight back. I comforted her and made a promise and to do this day I keep that promise.
I’m like you; I’d do anything for my kids, I love them unconditionally, treasure every memory and I’m grateful for the world they’ve shown me. I struggled; but the day I became a parent something shifted. My message to any Dad struggling today (no matter how trivial you think it might be) accept it, open your heart and share it with someone you trust. It cannot consume you because you are made for so much more and your children need you regardless of what or how you think.
Regardless of your experience when you're finding it hard as a parent (Dad) it can feel like there is nowhere to turn. You might think why didn’t you reach out? And you’re right, when you reflect back on a moment like this you’re ultimately faced with a choice….. share or conceal. I chose the latter. Yes, I opened up to my partner but beyond that I hid behind the mask. I chose to hide it from everyone who cared about me. I know now that it was the shame associated with asking for help that held me back. I wish I’d been more open. In part it’s about trust but when it comes down to it for me it was the shame. For you it might be different but at the time I didn’t want people to worry and I didn’t want people to think I was weak or incapable of feeling different.
If you feel that way I invite you to join the The Modern Fatherhood Club community. If you'd like to share your own story I'd love to hear from you. And, if you're a new mum reading this and you want to celebrate the impact your partner is having as a new Dad please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I'd love to share that story too.
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