Category Archives: FatherHood

Papa est la!

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I am a single father and I’m gonna let you in on a little secret…I’m Batman!

Baby-Doll_WithdrawalEvery parent, whether lone or in a relationship knows that feeling. You have to be everything and anything to this little person, you GET TO BE everything to her. The car breaks down, you fix it, a toy splits in two, you put it together, she’s hungry, you provide food, she’s sick, you provide medicine, she cries, you provide comfort. You hold your baby until she feels better and all the tears have dried up and her one toothed smile re-appears.
To her, you are the single most powerful being in the universe, the one with all the answers, the one who carries all her stuff like a pack mule, the one with the silver coins that are used to obtain goods and especially the one with all the tasty snacks.
Your utility belt contains calpol, nappies, wipes, breadsticks, petit filou, oranges, cauliflower cheese, brocoli, spaghetti and all the major food groups (that you don’t even eat) but for her, you provide everything.son_of_the_demon_by_axlsalles-d4v2i2h
Your biggest weakness is your heart, the way it breaks when she’s teething and you know there is nothing, with all your power and might, there is nothing you can do to soothe her, you can only hold her in your arms and share her pain. The only thing you want from God is to be granted the ability to take away that pain even if it means transferring it to yourself just so that your baby doesn’t have to suffer anymore.
Your neck stiffens when you’re at soft play and the bigger kids are running very close to her, nearly knocking her over, it takes every ounce of patience you have to fight the protective impulse coursing through every fibre of your being but you can do this, you’re a dad, her dad, you have to set an example.
You are the first man she knows, you are the unachievable standard that she will set for her future partner/spouse and who she will use as comparison when she sees TV dads & her friends’ dads. If you you are in a relationship, your daughter will see that as the standard of how things should be. How I treat that woman, how I speak to that woman, how I hold that woman will register in my daughter’s mind as ‘normal’, as ‘standard’ therefore Dads must be conscious of our actions and words, for our baby sees everything we do and will inevitably copy it.  She must not ever see a person undermined because of her gender or her looks or any other characteristic. Instead our daughters must see us celebrate the women around us,for their achievements, their triumphs but also during the harshest of times, when our partner is suffering, our daughters must see us holding them and helping them through it.
For that is the kind of man you have to be when you are a father. Your legacy won’t be the house/car/savings that you leave behind, your little girl can get all of that on her own, your legacy will be the way you lived your life and the way you treated those around you.
robian-toddler-damianI don’t fight crime but I fight other battles in everyday life. I win when I see that smile when picking her up from the minder after a long day at work. She doesn’t care for my suit, my car or my gadgets, she just needs me to be there. I am grateful to be able to feed and clothe my child and that she has not once seen me cry while I look at my bills and think of how I will cover them this month.
So dads and mums, treat yourself when you can, remind yourself of how good a job you’re doing and ignore those that would put you down.
You are Batman!
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Journey to divorce

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Getting married is oft romanticised as the ultimate goal of a relationship/dating. Films, TV series often end with the couple getting hitched, especially animated films of the disney variety tend to end with marriage and a promise of happily ever after and we rarely ever see this magical ‘ever after’.
Back in 2003, I remember watching a film titled ‘Chalte Chalte’, the first half revolves around the usual tropes of boy meets girl, they get off to a rocky start but gradually become friends and fall in love, there’s a love triangle and family resistance but they surmount those obstacles and get married. I thought it was romantic, the songs were good and the humour spot on. I also though the film was over but turns out we were only halfway through and it surprised me as I was thinking well they’re married so they’re gonna be happy, all good, all sorted but when I realised they were going to show ‘marital problems’, I distinctly remember feeling my heart sink because subconsciously I didn’t want to have this idyllic picture ruined but was also morbidly curious as to which direction they would take this in.
The main characters go through financial problems, family relationship breakdown and slowly drift apart. This crushed me, I couldn’t comprehend what was happening.
Bear in mind that I hadn’t exactly been around healthy examples of marriage while growing up, my parents got close to divorce multiple times and were unhappy, other wedded couples in my immediate family had more than their fair share of trials. So why was I so surprised at seeing Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee going through the same issues?
In spite of all the bad that I had seen in real life, romantic comedies gave me hope and built this idea that if you found the right person, you’d be alright, you’d always be smiling and happy and you’d sing and dance around the house together. Until you had kids that is…THEN your kids would sing and dance with you and repeat the cycle!
That film gave me pause, I related it back to my parents’ situation then brushed it aside. Fast forward a year, I watched Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam(which actually came out 2 years earlier but I was a poor student in London so I only caught it when a friend lent me the DVD, or was it VCD still then?!)

 Now this plot started with a similar premise, the couple get married but the husband doubts whether his wife is just being a dutiful wife rather than actually being in love with him and her friendship with a male friend adds to the drama and self doubt. Those feelings of lack of self worth, doubt, needing constant reassurance really hit home for me. Having had an ‘unstable’ childhood due to a traumatic event at age 8/9 and having a controlling father as my primary male role model hadn’t actually turned me into him but instead made me feel unvalidated and unworthy on many occasions, the surrounding patriarchal society also had a lot to do with that. I related more to the women around me who were at the whim of their partners and has to ask for permission to go outside than I did to the men, who had money, resources, flash cars, seemingly owning the world and the women in it.
I examined my own life and relationships and noted a disturbing truth, as much as I rejected the controlling behaviour that I had seen, my lack of self worth made me seek validation in others and that constant need turned into somewhat demanding behaviour towards people I was in a relationship with, I would need a text or a call regularly, I would ask for reassurance, confirmation of their feelings regularly. I saw it as something that was essential in the relationship, that need to be told and reminded that I meant something to someone, that I mattered.
It took me nearly a decade to work through this(I’ll probably delve into that decade in another post, should there be an apetite for it), counselling, breakups, health scares, depression, a lot happened on my way to discovering who I was when I didn’t have anyone with me. Who am I without my friends, partners, family? I remember the moments where I felt whole for the first time since childhood. I was in the pre-production phase of a short film, was still refining the script and getting a crew/cast together, work was especially heavy during that period, lots of unpaid overtime. I had just saved up enough to help my parents buy a house and get out of the rental market. I got home after a production meeting, having found my crew, met a huge deadline at work and made the bank transfer which brought me back to zero savings and I remember feeling…good. It was alien to me at first, I had so many responsibilities, people counting on me, goals I wanted to achieve, classes I had signed up but for the first time, I didn’t feel overwhelmed, I looked at it all and thought to myself ‘I’ll only do this if I want to, not because I have to, I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do or be anyone I don’t want to be’. I allowed myself to stop feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders and to just let it all go, to care less about what was expected of me by others but more about what was healthy for me.
I met someone creative, active, kind and joyful. I did not seek her validation, she just gave me her support and was my biggest fan as I was her’s. We dated, were in a relationship, moved in together and were married not long after. Armed with the knowledge of what we’d seen around us growing up and not wanting to repeat the mistakes we had witnessed, We talked at length about what we each wanted from a life partner and dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s, agreed the no no’s and we compromised. 2 years later we got separated while expecting our first child, no amount of reading or relationship counselling could repair the rift between us. I was the first to say it out loud, its over, I cried. It seemed like life itself was ending, we wouldn’t get a house together, build a tree house for our children, get a scooter and go for picnics at the park on sundays, have quickies before going out on fridays, travel the world hand in hand while we grow old.
Now I could say that it was the upcoming birth of my child that got me through it but it would only be partially true. What got me through was the memory of that moment where I felt…good. Knowing that I felt that way once without anyone, and as dependant as I’d become on my life partner during our time together, I would be ok without her and she would also still thrive without me. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an instant feeling of ‘yay i’m gonna be alright’, it took time, self reflection and mindfullness, we each had to work through our feelings of anger, abandonment, betrayal and pain, we mourned the relationship but we continued living for our own sakes and our child’s.
Divorce does leave you dissapointed and struggling to reconcile things for a while. Thinking of a life beyond the next 24 hours was impossible for a long time. But slowly that feeling of hope came back, armed with more life experience, I refused to be brought down and made even more cynical, I choose to love life again with all its wrinkles.

Unnecessary metaphor: Two people sow a seed in the Soil, both must water the plant and keep it protected from outside conditions for it to grow and blossom. If it gets too much water but not enough sun, it may well wither…