This is #Dad Tag. An Aussie Daddy Blogger initiative. We are asking the members of our group to respond to a question in video format before passing a question on to the next poor victim.
My question was asked by Dan Lister at Beard and Bug.
What is the biggest thing I’ve learned about myself since having kids?
That was a tricky question. If you asked me about the things I’ve learned in general from having kids, I’d tell you that having children amplifies your weaknesses and your strengths. It rapidly defines your traits and in that way, you learn, or should I say, rediscover a great deal more about who you are.
I am aware that I am very impatient. I have low tolerance levels for noise. I’ve discovered the true meaning of tired (and I don’t do tired). I love to tease for a reaction. And I’ve got a mild inclination towards selfishness – I need my own time.
But you know what? I’m a great dad. I am heavily involved in my daughters’ lives. I’m dedicated to being there for them. I make time to contribute to their activities. I read them books. I take them to the park. I make their lunches. I was in the pool with them through their early lessons of swimming. I’ve always been hands on with them, changing nappies, wiping bums, cleaning up piss and dry retching over stinky toilet bowls.
I suppose in alot of ways, I am kind of towing the line for new age men who are breaking the stereotypical box of what real men are supposed to be – bit like a less funny version of my mate Clint from Reservoir Dad. I express my feelings, I’m aware emotionally, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I couldn’t really care less if someone called me ‘gay’ (yeah, that’s still a thing) or a pussy.
And I haven’t always been like that. If you knew me when I was young, I was a bit of a male chauvinist. I was a sporto and if you weren’t good at sport, you weren’t good at shit. I assessed the book on its cover. I was very self obsessed and was forever trying to keep up with the Joneses. We had a damn nice house in Trinidad. And a maid. But things changed when we came to Australia. I was now from a poor family and going to a private school. Everyone seemed to have the pretty, shiny things that I wanted. And that’s how I rated success.
Since having daughters I’ve realised how worthless material things are.
I watch Nikita’s little fingers grab the hem of her dress and throw herself into a carefree hop or breathless spin.
I see Siena’s false bravado stripped away in her infectious fits of laughter.
And I see the world I want for them.
One where ignorance is bullshit, not bliss.
Where equality isn’t just a utopian ideal.
Where Cancer is curable.
One where the trillions are spent on sustainability and technology above weaponology and where war is not a perpetual state.
So I guess, putting all of these things in perspective, the one main thing that I have learned about myself since having children is how important I am.
If I can raise my daughters to chase life instead of objects. To make their life’s work something that truly inspires them instead of something that acquires things for them. Something that connects them to the phenomenon of life rather than buries them underneath it.
If I can show them a person that reflects the world that I want for them, then that’s some pretty damn important work.
By changing the things that our children value, we can change the things that they prioritise and the things that they demand.
By changing the things that our children demand, we can change the things that future systems provide.
A lot of the time you can get frustrated, in a world that seems to have it’s priorities all wrong. In a world where it’s so hard to facilitate change for the better. Where it feels like you don’t have an effective roll to play.
But being a father helps me realise that I can have an impact. That I am important. That I do truly have a hugely important role.
And that really is the biggest thing I have learned about myself since becoming a father.
Being a dad inspires me.
It’s comforting to know.
That generation after generation, long after I am gone.
I will still be…
changing the world.