There is a Facebook Group I am a member of.
This group consists of Dads from around the world with members from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the USA to name just a few.
In the group we chat about blokey stuff but mainly about being first time Dads or veteran Dads, the world of parenthood and subsequent blogging that comes with the territory. We laugh. We cry. We virtual handshake and pat each other on the back. We swap stories, ask for advice and simply hang out.
Before my daughter was born, this blog and my previous blog did not exist. I was not a member of any groups focused on fatherhood on or offline, and had never heard the term “Aussie Daddy Bloggers”.
When I found out we were pregnant I felt scared beyond belief and yet super excited all at the same time. I was constantly thinking “Will I be able to earn enough money to support my family?”, “Will I be a good dad?”, “What hobbies and daily interests will I have to give up or curb?”. I tell you, the feelings of dread, wonderment, loss, panic, excitement and fear were suffocating at times. Could my life really change that much?
I guess I just didn’t understand my emotions. I couldn’t pinpoint why I felt the way I felt and having little resources or knowledge about raising a child didn’t help. It’s a generalised but recognised fact that when it comes to deep and meaningful conversations, guys tend to shut up shop and put on a façade.
Rarely are men open to expressing their feelings I guess for fear of appearing weak, not in control or feeling like an outcast. I wasn’t any different. So at first it was awkward and difficult to talk to other blokes about the meaning of life and love. In real life away from my blog, I have a small group of quality mates, but not all are dads. I wondered if they would comprehend the sleepless nights or the excitement over a baby’s first poo in 3 days. How could I share my worry about whether I was putting a nappy on too tight or if the baby was rugged up too much to sleep during winter? I wondered how to find the right balance between time to raise my baby, ways to support my family, be there for my wife and yet try to attend to my own needs and see my friends. In my mind, I was trying so hard to hold onto my old life yet I was so excited about my new life and couldn’t work out how to mesh the two together.
Growing up, my own father was around for the first 3 years of my life and circumstances dictated that I didn’t see him again until I was 15. For me personally, not having a male figure involved in my early years has made me realise the importance of being involved in a close knit family, so I want to be there for my daughter. Later when the relationship between my father and I grew, I learnt from him in many ways and he then taught me about respecting others beliefs, values and decisions. These are traits which I really hope to pass on to my daughter.
I see my Facebook group as my ‘close-knit family’, in a way. I look to them for advice, to offload my thoughts and for general feedback on fatherhood. Looking back now, to have this support network and even some basic, quality words of advice when my daughter was first born and just prior, would’ve helped me greatly to gain self-confidence and assurance as a first time Dad.
I can now say I’m a proud “Aussie Daddy Blogger” and being a member of group forums focused on other Dads and their experiences has meant my database of ideas, knowledge and advice has been broadened greatly. Watching a new born child grow up into a wonderful human being is an eye opening experience that words just can’t describe and it’s been awesome being able to share that experience. I’ve learnt that it’s ok to not know what I don’t know.
The wonderful gems of wisdom I was able to collate to bring to you in my previous post, 18 Tips for Shit-Scared First-Time Dads came from an online brainstorming bromance with a bunch of fellas, whom I respect and admire greatly, from a couple of Facebook forums: Aussie Daddy Bloggers and Dad Bloggers Facebook Group.
A big shout out goes to every one of you who have helped contribute to my posts, provided advice or who have shared a virtual beer with me. I can’t recommend enough the importance of finding a like-minded group for first-time Dads whether it be online or offline. You’ll thank yourself at 2am or at nappy time, believe me!