My name’s Saul and this is my first video diary.
How you going?
Hi. My name’s Roland.
My name’s Marcus.
My name’s Paul.
Welcome to Dadvice, a show about the stresses of becoming a new dad. I’m your host, Ben Lomas, and this episode is about you. When my little one came along, I just started stacking on the kilos, ‘cause I don’t have enough time to do exercise. Like, I remember – I remember the day that I realised I was a fat dad, right? I remember the day. So, very clearly. I was walking around the garden, right? I stepped on a rake and it didn’t hit me in the face. I’m like, “Come on.”
There are moments that you can go to some dark places and – and I’ve been there, and my one is always to run away or go out and have a big night. Have you guys gone to those places and – and if so, did you have any coping mechanisms?
It was the maternal child health nurse. She was – would always make a point at the end of each session to ask me how I was going mentally, and I wasn’t even conscious about my mental health at the start; I was just like, you know, this is it. Cruising. It’s just being a dad, just making my way through, and then – but she sort of kept asking me every time we saw her, and that’s where I started to think, “Yeah, there is some things going on,” or – yeah, there’s some stuff. Yeah. I should admit to myself, yeah, it’s a bit hard here. I get a bit down here or – you know, as well as the good stuff as well, but …
I was quite self-critical of myself and just felt like I’m effing up all the time and doing everything wrong. But then, there was a – there was a point where you go, actually, you know, she’s really chilled in my company. You don’t – don’t have to be – you just have to be there; you don’t have to actually entertain – she’s, like, really happy just to potter around and that’s, like, a really – it’s a really good thing. She’s comfortable, happy, feeling safe.
I found that I put a lot of pressure on myself to always have to entertain and interact and …
You do. Often you …
It’s like, you don’t – no, I don’t think you need to. I still probably haven’t got my head around it, to sort of be that primary carer and not having a group of maybe male mates with kids the same age to hang out with and socialise on that day as well. So, it makes a bit tougher to – it’s a bit of a solo thing. You’re on your own, really. So, you learn how to, sort of – yeah, just fill a whole day, you and your daughter who doesn’t speak English, you know? ‘Cause she can’t, so it’s like – yeah.
We had to do IVF in the end, so actually having a baby and getting lined up to that was – was really tough, and that was probably more the – the darkest moments, and it becomes – and actually, it’s a really interesting process to go through because so many people do it and no-one talks about it. It was good and we understood that a lot of people were going through it and you didn’t, kind of, realise.
The pressure I’ve been feeling or stress I’ve been feeling lately is more that – obviously just wanting to make sure we – we do the right thing by our baby and that I’m – I’m doing my role.
I can’t do what I want anymore. I can’t – you know, it’s not – it’s not about me.
The baby will sometimes make you extremely frustrated, especially if you’re trying to resettle it in the middle of the night. You’ve got to work the next day.
And you know that anything she does, she doesn’t mean to do it to you. She’s just a baby, I guess, and just working out herself.
You’re just second-guessing yourself the first couple of weeks. How can anyone be so irresponsible to – to give us a baby?
Don’t you love it though when you go to the hospital and they’re all helping you and then, after two days – two days, they go, “You can go home now.” You’re like, “What? Go home?” And they give you the baby, and you walk home really carefully. “Don’t drop it. Don’t drop it.” And you drive home really slowly, like, “There’s a baby. They have us a baby in that joint. They gave us a baby. Us a baby. Our cat died, remember? They gave us a baby.” The other day, I was lying on the bed and my oldest son’s in the bath. So, he’s 13. He can be in the bath by himself, but I’m still the father. So, I yell out, “Get out of the bath.” I hear two rooms down, “I don’t want to get out of the bath.” “Get out of the bath.” “I don’t want to.” So, I go to the youngest one; he still thinks I’m a legend. The other two, they’re onto me, right? I go to him, “Go and get your brother out of the bath.” Now, this kid’s either an idiot or a genius, right? ‘Cause I hear him walk in there and say, “Dad said we could have a biscuit.” And he got out straight away. That kid’s a better dad than me and he’s seven, so …
It’s – it’s not easy. I don’t know. I challenge any parent to say it’s easy and it’s a cakewalk without them lying, you know, ‘cause I reckon …
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I’m not saying it’s not fun either, but it is hard – it is hard work.
Look, it’s not easy; you’ve just got to get – get a bit of perspective.
I’ve found that’s helped me a lot when I’ve sort of hit the dark place, so I’ve got quite depressed almost. You’re just like, “This is too hard,” or, “I’m over it.” Just get out and get active, you know? Like, just even once a week for me, I find it makes a massive difference and it gets me through it. If I just do an hour of whatever – run and ride, swim, something.
I think – yeah. Remove yourself, get a bit of nature and then, you come back a better person.
And structured activity helps – I don’t know the science of it, but it actually helps, sort of, change the way your brain works for that time and get – get yourself into a more positive mindset.
And for me, my only other coping mechanism is probably – I really love gardening and nature. I find there’s, like, a meditative thing, similar to what we’ve talked about. So, if you can have an hour poking around the garden, fuck it, things will – things will evaporate, you know? The – kind of get perspective on things. But yeah. It’s – yeah. That’s what’s worked for me so far, I think.
And you do realise it’s that finding connection with another dad who’s also going through the same thing. Like, it’s – you know, meeting you guys, we’ve seen – I’ve heard a lot of things that I haven’t heard before, but it’s that connection. ‘Cause once you have a child, things change.
I’d like to sing a song about – for anyone who spends their days with their – with their kids. I spend two days a week with my daughters at home, and I find it a good day if we manage to do one thing, which I’d like to sing about right now. Get out the frickin’ door, that’s all I want to do. Get your shoes on, grab your dolly and get out the frickin’ door. It’s quarter-past-two and we had a nine o’clock appointment. So, get out the frickin’ door. How hard can it be? If anyone has earned the right to cry, it’s me. So, get out the frickin’ door and we’ll call it a day.
One of the things about being a dad is all of a sudden, everything you own is covered in avocado.
And now, I find myself – I’ve got to be quiet – having longer showers, ‘cause sometimes, that’s your only time you get.
They need sleep. They need a feed. They need a change. They’ve got wind.
My wife: her bath’s take forever as well. So, maybe it’s something we both do.
The only true time you get to yourself to be alone is when you’re on the toilet, have a poo.
I think men’s health is important. Like I said, you know, you’re a parent or a dad from day one, but all the way through, and you’ve got to go and get your prostate checked. Prostate cancer is the number one cancer that kills men in Australia, and I’ve just turned 50. Well, 51. And went along, had the check and the doctor said to me, “Mr Mooney, you understand that this is a digital examination?” And I said, “Yes, I do.” And he said, “And it’s not uncommon during an examination of this nature to get an erection,” and I said, “I don’t think I’ll get an erection, doc,” and he said, “I wasn’t talking about you.” So – anyway, it was bulk-billing, so what the hell? The result’s important and it’s come back negative, but we’re catching up for drinks on Tuesday.
One thing I’ve noticed is – and I’ve made this as a stance for myself – is that – doesn’t matter with other dads or any blokes, if I hear a guy say, “Harden the F up,” I challenge them. I would challenge them and it might be awkward, but it’s that phrase, “Harden the F up.” Is so stupid and so outdated.
The fun moments to recover you tenfold from the dark moments. The hilarity when your daughter shits in your hand or does a floater in the bath or does something ridiculous or says some words or counts or sings a song.
And like you said, you remember that, but the amnesia kicks in. You don’t remember the bad stuff, which is, sort of, you know …
It’s survival mechanism, I think. Evolutionarily, if we remembered all the shit stuff – no, I mean, it’s good though. I think – you’re right. It’s like weather systems, I think, emotionally sometimes, ‘cause there’s other stuff that feeds into it. Like, whether your baby’s sleeping well or – things you can’t control, ‘cause it’s like, it will get better, and being able to ride that out and just go – we can’t control these things happening. We’ve got no sleep for a week or two weeks or – you know, work pressures, financial pressures, those things will change eventually, you know?
Or may come back. Like, that’s the – it was not so much something I learnt as a dad. I remember a moment when I was a lot younger when I just accepted that life will throw up stuff all the time and it’s – you’re not on one path, going to the perfect moment; it’s just – like, it becomes – things will come back around. So, from being – you know, coming out of a – something and then it – something will come up again, but it’s how you – you’ve just got to acknowledge it, I think.
And have faith. You know when you’re present and you put – you put your child down and they down with a beautiful sleep and they give you that smile, like, it’s that time where you walk away and go, “I am the man,” and just appreciate it.
Every day, I understand now how hard it was at times with my parents and how much of a little shit I was to them and just have no clue.
Modern men should do more, and I’ve tried. I was a bit crap early, but I’m much better now.
I think it’s times like these that are really important for maintaining your wellbeing, ‘cause it’s a really lovely time to see them, sort of, developing and washes away all the – all the – all the pain of last night.
I treasure every moment I get with Archie, whether it’s going to the park or going to the – going to a coffee shop or something like that and – ‘cause you get to watch him learn as well.
I’m loving having a daughter. I mean, it’s challenging but I love it. I really do.
You’ll get more from it too when you’re – when you’re more engaged, more involved. I think it’s a crime for – parent’s generation didn’t do some of the heavy lifting. Anyway, wife’s home, so video diary is over.
If you don’t feel quite like yourself, my dadvice to you is to head to dadvice.org.au. We’ve got some fantastic resources that will help you with the many stresses of being a new dad. They are here to help.