(A VIP Daddy Guest Post)
Remember that post I did a while back called “I See YOU”? (you can find it on the ‘favourite posts’ section of the blog). It was one of my most popular posts…and one I’m extremely proud of.
That post was written especially for Special Mamas and, given my own experiences, I found it really easy to write.
So, following a similar theme, I decided to write something for Special Dads too, but my initial draft didn’t flow as easily. Sure, through Hannah’s daddy, I ‘get’ some things that dads of children with additional needs might feel and think, but by no means all of it. So I reached out to a Daddy Pal and asked for ideas for this new post, but when he sent me what he’d written I couldn’t deconstruct it; I just couldn’t do any of it justice…it deserved no tinkering of mine.
Caring for a child with additional needs can sometimes feel overwhelming and isolating and like you’re the only person in the world going through or thinking stuff…but that’s probably not the case, because there’s lots of us who might be going through or have gone through similar stuff. So hopefully this’ll reach another Special Daddy somewhere, who might benefit from reading the words of another dad and maybe, hopefully, help someone feel less isolated.
So, without further ado (and with his permission) here’s what my Daddy Pal wrote.
p.s. Thanks, Daddy Pal xx *blows kisses*
Started as a drama:
Broken father of a broken daughter, broken husband to a broken wife.
But then I realised something…
I don’t know what it’s like to be a father of a kid without problems.
I don’t know what it’s like to be a father who’s not skirting edges of depression.
I don’t know what it’s like to be a father whose wife isn’t suffering.
I don’t know what it’s like to not be the one who goes to work, to be able to leave my daughter with my wife.
…and a dozen other things that make up my life.
What I do know:
I work in construction. I thought it was struggling to come to terms with gender equality. It’s streets ahead of being a dad; everyone checks what you’re doing, comments, suggests and critiques it. I know they do this to mum too, but it stopped years ago.
People are surprised when I brush my daughter’s hair.
The healthcare people we meet too are mostly sexist. We get spoken to differently, to some extent you need to speak to different people differently but this is more than that. There are good ones where this doesn’t happen but not many.
A lot of the time I’m out of the loop and I worry about the amount of poop my wife has to understand, manage, and report back to me.
I was carrying a lot of anger early on but that’s subsiding.
Advice to others:
There’s no such thing as a stupid question so ask away.
Don’t bottle up your fears, or your anger (but don’t go punchy)
Write stuff down, there’s a lot to take in, and when you spend a sleepless night picking over the words from a medic, having them written down helps.
Try and do appointments in pairs, you’ll both hear the same words but different meanings and it can help to have a second opinion of what was said.
Develop a filter to screen out the idiots, there’s a lot of them, but occasionally people surprise you in a good way.
The fear you feel is normal, the urge to run, the urge to scream, the urge to give up, is all normal. It comes from the times when we lived in caves. We try and pretend we’re advanced, but mostly it’s a mask, and the stuff you’re going through strips through that, you are back in the cave, cold, frightened and hungry.
You’ll have moments when you need to talk, but you’re worried you’ll scare people off. Some you will, but they may come back. The ones that don’t, it really is their loss and all I can do is hope that if they find themselves in the same place, they find someone better than they are to listen.
Some people will surprise you by helping.
Some will surprise you by actually understanding.
You’re worried that saying your fears will make them true, it won’t. See above for what some will and won’t do when they hear them, but your fears keep you in the cave, and that is not a good place to be, so you do need to talk. If you’re worried you’ll crush someone, you don’t need to dump all the stuff on one person.
Hugs to all.