Lost myself as a dad
This post was very difficult to write down, so if it's not my best post ever, excuse me.
I want to write down my experience of becoming a parent. What did I do wrong - not with my kids - but with myself.
I hope if you one out there with a similar problem, this post helps you somehow.
Let's start: A.D.
If you do not know me, if I'm not sitting in front of huge monitors while banging a keyboard, I'm a father of two little (5 & 9) super cute children. I love them with every tiny piece of my heart.
So I made two decisions when I became a parent:
To be in a full home office. I would like to see them growing and learning all the new things. These things happen only once a lifetime. I did not want to miss a single moment.
I do not want to be a "weekend father" - someone who only sees their children when they are already sleeping or only on weekends because he is working all the time. I want to spend as much time as possible with my kids.
Luckily, I was able to do this. My previous and current employers are both family-friendly companies! So, I'm sending a huge thank you to them!
The bad side
As they say, the coin has two sides - a good and a bad. In this case, the bad side was that I had to give up some bits of myself to be a good dad - at least, that is what I thought. TLDR: You don't need to. It's so nonsense. Please don't do it! No!
A child changes your life.
- You will never be the same person as before.
- You cannot do everything in the same way as before.
- You have much more serious responsibilities as a parent than before.
So it's obvious that you need to sacrifice something from your life.
To the people out there, who are thinking of becoming parents, I hope you won't change your mind after these lines. 😁 Being a parent is the most wonderful but challenging thing you can do. I receive so much love from my kids; I could easily build a skyscraper with it! 🥰
You need to keep in mind that you do not need to sacrifice EVERYTHING.
This is where I failed. I sacrificed almost all the things that defined me as a person. Unfortunately, I only realized this after 7 long years. And it left marks on me.
The definition of myself
I try to define myself as a person. The most common things I specify below are hobbies and things I would like to do in the past because that defines me the most.
- I love competitive online first-person shooter games. I participated in several Europe Cups, and I was a team leader of Team Hungary in a game called Medal of Honor. I'm one of the few people on the internet who still knows what ClanBase is. I was a pretty good player or at least other players frightened by seeing my name. 😅
I love playing on my guitar. I got my first one when I was 14 and started to learn it in autodidact mode. Played a lot of Metallica and AC/DC. 🤘
I never was an extrovert person, but since I'm a parent and my friends got far away from me, I became extremely introverted.
These are simple things (playing games/guitar, being socialized), but I'm not sure if I could define myself without them.
How did I find myself lost?
The funny thing is, I didn't. My subconscious realized it first. 🧠
What do I mean by that? Let me explain.
Our current apartment is medium-sized, let's say, not too small, not too big - yeah, that's the definition of medium, good job, Andras. 👏
My wife has been working from home as well since COVID. We are working in the living room, the same room where we eat as a family or watch a movie with my wife.
It could be worse! I know many people are out there in way worse situations, so I do not want to whine about it too much.
Let's try to summarize the warnings from my subconscious that I did not notice in time:
The first warning was that I started to lose weight without any reason. I went to some medical check-ups, but they didn't find anything special. But after a few weeks, a month maybe, it stopped.
In the upcoming months, I had a strange feeling when I worked at my desk. I felt a bit claustrophobic every time I spent too much time sitting at my desk. My desk was in one of the corners of our living room. I had plenty of room to work but still had that feeling when you cannot breathe - no idea why. If you had similar feelings, you know it isn't good. I had to get up sometimes, just to "breathe" a bit.
A few weeks later, my productivity started to fall apart. I started to work very slowly, could not concentrate that much as before. It was weird for a person like me, who is always productive - no idea how to handle it.
Of course, I have to note that my kids were home with us in the summer, which does not help my productivity.
Only after this moment, I start to think a bit deeper. I had physical symptoms without any physical problem. Hmm...
My lovely wife pointed out that maybe it's something inside me, in my subconscious - and she was right.
Let me think of my life a bit. What do I have in my life that I'm proud of:
- I have a beautiful family.
- We live happily together - of course, we have problems, but who doesn't.
- We have enough money not to worry about it every month.
- We live in our own apartment, with a beautiful view of two lakes.
What then? Hmm...
Oh, wait. Did you notice as well? All the things are related to my family. Nothing relates to me as a person and only me. Hmm...
Bamm... I suddenly understood. I had no clear answer to the "Who am I?" question. 🤔
As COVID went on a short vacation in the summer (it didn't, it just looked like that), we decided with my wife that if COVID knocks with a hammer again on our door and we need to do homeschooling and working simultaneously, my wife will go for a temporary unpaid leave. So she could take care of the kids, and I could work normally.
I do not have that much hair left that will be enough for another chapter of full restrictions with two kids. 😁
In the meantime, I decided that I would like to try out other things online like making videos, podcasts, live streams, so everything that requires silence or at least a quiet room.
So as our apartment is not appropriate for these things, we decided with my wife to rent a flat / co-working space. If sh*t happens, I can go there to work properly. After two months of searching, we found one. It's literally two minutes from our home. Cheap, renovated, and near. Perfect. 👌
I have to note that I still did not know how lost I was at this point. I just had a feeling that something was not good.
Knock knock, who's there? Realization.
No, it was not COVID - yet. I began to test out how it feels like to work from the new rent. I was excited.
The very first day was super strange. I was there; no one talked to me, no one interrupted me. So you could guess it was pretty awesome, right? Well, no.
I was in a situation where I was not in the past 5-7 years. The last time was when I had no family and wife. Maybe that's why but I slowly started to realize that I had no idea who am I. I was in the same situation as earlier, but I was not the same person. Then who am I?
So at this point, my mental breakdown just started:
- Productivity => 0
- Questions => Infinite
- Answers => None
- Who am I => ???
It took days and weeks to start getting back to normal again. I can work effectively now, but not as effectively as before. Strange right? No interruption, work in silence killed my productivity?!
With my kids/wife home, I usually think of what to do when I'm not working - when I'm taking care of my kids, for example -, so at that time, when I sit down in front of the computer, I know what to do and how to do it. It was very effective! I have worked like this for the past 5 years at least.
Maybe this also caused a problem in my head. I had to work in a way that I did not use to in the past 5 years.
Our brain is funny. Things that we used to do for a really long time change our whole internal processes and thinking. Brain... Mysterious thing...
The solution was obvious.
I have to do things that I did before I became a parent. Like playing computer games, start playing on the guitar again, etc. I could only do these things in our home - at least the playing games part - when my kids were sleeping. I do not want to play in from of them.
Create a daily schedule of what to do when, now that I could create such a thing. The only thing that could ruin my daily schedule is when my kids are sick, but that's okay.
I had to realize that if I give up myself, it won't be good for my family as well, as I won't be as happy as I should be. It could affect my family's mood and everyday life!
If dad is happy, the family is happy. If dad is not happy, the family is not happy. (the same is true for the moms out there).
So the only advice I could give you if you have similar problems:
Don't sacrifice yourself. You are as important as your family, or not even more important sometimes. Take care of your family as much as you can, but not at this price!
It helped me a lot just to write it down and publish it. It feels like someone takes the burden off my shoulders. I hope you can discover something useful from my post! Have a nice day!