One dad shares the challenging circumstances that lead him to become a father and a step father.
The bond between parent and child is one that is very special and something that is grown and nurtured from birth. If you fully embrace your parenting journey your bond will flourish from day one and keep growing indefinitely. As romantic as this ideal sounds though. Sometimes like my own experience you are catapulted in to the world of parenting, skipping the baby years and are faced straight away with a confused toddler wondering who you are.
I first met Seth at the age of three, I had been seeing Seth’s mom for a couple of months and she had made the important decision to hold off introducing me until our relationship was serious. I fell in love with him that very first meeting and as I picked up his toy box with him sitting in it and began to fly him around the room I knew instantly there was a special connection and that things were going to be great.
I had craved a family from the age of around sixteen but I was creeping up to 30 before meeting ‘the one’. Our time together was (and still is) filled with laughter and fun and as the months went by my relationship with Seth blossomed. For months I viewed him as Laura's son but some amazing news the day after my 30th birthday, set in to motion a relationship I wasn't expecting.
When mum fell ill
I was going to be a dad, and have a child that in all intents and purposes was mine, that was an extremely exiting thought and something I had always dreamed of. The smiles and excitement soon turned to worry and upset though and as Seth's beautiful mom fell very ill and spent many weeks in hospital.
To say it turned our world around is an understatement, but despite the hardships and the emotional roller coaster, it turned out to be an amazing thing for mine and Seth's father/son relationship. Our time together shaped the love and affection we have for each other today.
The events of our pregnancy pushed me to drop out of university and I also left my job as I had to look after Seth. This was uncommon ground for me and I won’t lie, for someone who had spent most of his life looking after only himself this was frightening. Any money we had saved had soon gone, I wasn't driving at that point so travel costs back and forth to a hospital over 20 miles away had eaten up everything.
Turning adversity into adventure
Things got so tough that it got to the point where me and Seth were waking up in the morning, walking almost 2 miles to the train station, avoiding the ticket guy for the 20 miles of the journey and then walking almost 2 1/2 miles from the station to the hospital, every day.Some days we would arrive for the morning visiting slot and hang around the hospital until 9pm. It was heartbreaking seeing Seth’s mom suffering but we were there for her, as a family.
It opened my eyes to how parenting should be, the effort I put in to keeping Seth's mind away from the more serious issues that we're unfolding was exhausting, we built a base in a weeping willow on the hospital grounds, we went on adventures between visiting slots, we read books and lay on the grass for hours telling stories. As much as I was doing everything I could for him he was unknowingly doing just as much for me and was keeping me grounded.
Thankfully those months passed, our youngest arrived, despite even more drama (but that's another story) and Mrs M gradually got back to full health, but that lesson in parenting never went away and that same amount of effort and attention is today how I spend my days taking care of both of my boys.
Still a doting dad
Sometimes its the hardships in life that get you where you need to be emotionally and bring out a side of you that can sometimes be buried deep. I'll never forget the story of how mine and Seth’s relationship grew and how much we relied on each other to get us through a pretty dark time. I will always view Seth as my first child and thanks to his mom, I have now been lucky enough to be given the chance to fully embrace this side of me and become a stay at home dad.
I may not have had the baby years with Seth but the experiences we have shared together since that special day that we met has more than made up for that and the tough times we shared together have built a relationship that is fit for any doting father.
In the run up to launch of the film Down Dog on 14 February, insideMAN is running a series of articles about fatherhood and we'd love you to get involved. You can join the conversation on twitter by using the hashtag #MenBehavingDADly; leave a comment in the section below or email us with your thoughts and ideas for articles to insideMANeditor@gmail.com.
For more information about the film see www.downdogfilm.com