'I still have no clue what I'm doing': Local dad on the struggle to find his feet

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"Nothing can prepare you for parenting".
"Nothing can prepare you for parenting".

Inspired to share his struggle with parenthood, local father Wade Seale talks about the existential crisis he faced during his son's first year, "feeling like an addendum" and why his experience of "fatherhood continues to be one massive improv". 


Mom of two, Odette Wakefield, gave us a gift in sharing some of her parenting journey

Nothing can prepare you for parenting, and what I loved about Odette's essay is the invitation by example to other parents to open up and share their experiences. 

My son is four now, and we only started developing a relationship when he started talking. Before that, it was quite difficult for me. I linked my awkwardness to 'feeling like an addendum'.

His mother was quite clearly the primary caregiver. She was so good at it, and I was a clumsy numpty. I literally dropped him on an escalator once.

I could feel the disapproval in the stares from people. I also thought it was an opportunity for him to really do me his first solid by not crying as loudly and for as long as he did—what a moment. 

Also read: 'She teaches me about myself' - Local mom reflects on how her child changed her for the better

'Existentially superfluous' 

I empathise with young, newly-married fathers who feel neglected. If I were to take the opportunity to be a little pretentious, I'd describe it as feeling existentially superfluous. It's easy to feel unnecessary, specifically at the level of being. You don't really know what to do, but there is also a lot of pressure to do something.

And while you were the centre of your wife's attention only a short while ago, now there is this whole other person who rightly needs 24-hour attention. I found that it was a lot to deal with. I started finding my place when my son and I started communicating verbally.

I guess it's how talking can offer a glimpse into another person's existence that works for me. I appreciate that.

A few days ago, he sincerely said, "Wade, you are my hero." It was such a wonderful thing to hear.

For his age, he really has a way with words. On a recent, separate occasion, he said, "Wade, do you know how much I love you? Before I was born, I asked Jesus to give me a daddy named Wade and to give me a lot of love to give him".

I don't know where he comes up with these things, but his brain is working, and I love it. 


'Opposite end of the spectrum' 

There are also days on the radical, opposite end of the spectrum - like when I was playfully teasing him after school one day, and he said, "you the fucken worsest daddy ever," to which I responded, "worsest is not a word, my boy".

He's started swearing, mostly mischievously and as a joke, knowing his mother hates it.

Most of the time, he'd swear and wait for a reaction from me with a smile on his face, and in response to my really pathetic, vanilla rebuke, he'd say, "well, luckily, Kim (his mother) wasn't here to hear that!".

I personally feel that there are bigger issues demanding my concern, like if he swears at school. I've warned him and would reprimand him quite sternly for that.

But the point is, his brain is working, and I love it. 

'Something amazing is happening there' 

My daughter was born a few months ago, and how we've bonded despite her inability to talk awes me. Something amazing is happening there.

She's definitely a daddy's girl. She displays a clear penchant for mischief and delights in her brother's silliness, in which I, naturally, am a most willing participant. She needs to start school to improve her socialisation.

She's currently in that space where she only wants to be with her mother or me and cries when she goes to others, even her grandma. But I think she'll like school.

She has the biggest smile on her face when she watches the children at my son's school. 

Also see: 'It breaks my heart' - Local mom on why she's teaching her son 'not to be too kind'

'Why on earth did we freely elect to do this again?' 

There are times when I feel like we've been through this before with my son; why on earth did we freely elect to do this again? And that's despite the fact that both our kids have been 'easy' babies so far.

I've also decided to firmly hold to the view that your twenties are for having children under the age of five: you just don't have the energy in your thirties.

And then I definitely see that the load is much lighter with having a two-parent household, and even more so if you have a solid support system of extended family who can step in from time to time. 

'Socialising your children' 

And then, in a different category, you have the dynamic of socialising your children through them interacting and learning from others. For example, sharing is a priority for us. We take every opportunity to teach our son to share.

But then there is also the reality that on more than one occasion, he came home from school with broken toys because he let other children play with his toys, and then these angels (slash hooligans) threw (THREW!) his toys against the wall or something (I don't get it either).

So you do your best to raise your children a certain way, and then others come along and challenge that, just by being, just by the way they are. That is a challenge which I try to respond to by teaching him the reason why, for example, sharing is important.  

'Growing with these Oompa Loompas' 

Overall, I look forward to growing with these Oompa Loompas; to learning from them as I am now. One day leaving Jack's school, I stopped the car so that another kid, probably in Grade 5, could cross the road in front of us.

As he was doing so, this child somehow managed to trip himself and fell in the road, right in front of our car. Without the fifth-grader seeing, I laughed.

My son, as in my four-year-old son, admonished me: "why are you laughing? He could have gotten hurt!" There were so many lessons in that moment. Like, he actually could have gotten hurt.

But also, it's one thing if your mother, your teacher, or your wife tells you to grow up; but if your 4-year-old son tells you to grow up...do you know what I mean?

There was another male parent on the opposite side of the road who also stopped for this child to cross, and when we eventually passed each other, he looked at me and laughed when we made eye contact. Was my son a better person than this man, too?  

'The biggest blessing in my life' 

They've changed me more than anything or anyone. And if it seems that, in summation, my relationship with them is a little one-sided in that I am the one in profit, then it's because that's exactly what it is. 

I still have no clue as to what I am doing. For me, fatherhood continues to be one massive improv. 

It is the greatest source of anxiety I have ever had. But it is also, without doubt, the biggest blessing in my life.    

Chatback:

What's your parenting journey been like? 

Share your stories and questions with us via email at chatback@parent24.com. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

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