I am often asked what made me want to do this job. The answer is very simple. I want to make a difference, and for dads to feel valued, included and empowered. The history that gave me the passion for this runs much deeper though.
My dad passed away when I was 3 months old. Growing up without a father figure meant I experienced the importance of the role in reverse. My whole life I have felt like I had a piece missing. I am a daddy’s girl without a daddy. I would feel it more on special occasions; when I bought my first car, once I had said car and had no idea how to put fuel in it, walking down the aisle at my wedding. I felt the empty space at the most unassuming of moments, but the times when I knew others would pick up the phone to their dad and he would fix it. It felt like a helpline I just didn’t have.
When the time came for me to have my own children this bought a new wave of sadness. Not being able to show my dad his grandchildren and for them to have a wonderful relationship with their maternal grandfather. The truth is it also bought a certain amount of apprehension of how I would feel seeing my husband transition into the role of dad. I didn’t know what it was like to have a dad in the house. The role was more of a concept to me. It has been one of my biggest privileges in life to watch him on his journey into fatherhood. The relationship he has with both our children is everything I imagined and hoped it would be and more. I can see the different elements we bring to parenthood to enrich our children’s upbringing. My son also had my dad’s name as his middle name, I hope this helps him feel a connection.
But the truth is this was not an easy journey. My birth with our first child was not easy. She got into difficulty and the alarm was raised. It felt like hundreds of people ran into a room very much not big enough to accommodate them all. During this time, I remember looking over at my husband and he was a shade of grey I had never seen a person before. My husband is an engineer. A professional problem solver and solution finder. But in the delivery suite all he could do was passively stand and watch whilst others tried to make it better. He thought he was going to lose us both. He felt terrified, lost and powerless. Thankfully we have talked about this at length afterwards for him to be able to process and move forward.
During my pregnancy we went to all the usual scans and appointments. The scan rooms were tiny and he often felt in the way, standing in the corner holding the coats like the person that doesn’t go on rides at a theme park. This angered me. WE were there for OUR baby. It touched a real nerve for me during my pregnancy. I held the role of dad in such high regard. I was once told (quite negatively) that I put my dad on a pedestal. That is true, and he deserves to be there and will remain there. So, during my pregnancy I expected everyone to see the dad in the same way: as important, valued, vital to their child’s development and happiness…but in truth I didn’t always feel that was the case. This continued as my children grew and entered education. Their old school would communicate with me, despite repeated requests to send information to us both. The chat groups were for the Mums. The dads often finding engaging effectively with their children’s education a challenge. Again, this felt wrong and unfair.
I was talking to a friend one day about this, something had happened to make me feel irritated. She had seen an advert for a job through her work and suggested I should look at it. That role was for a Dad Matters coordinator. Straight away it caught my attention. Yes! Dads matter! I immediately researched the role and felt compelled to apply. This was something I could do to be part of the change.
I wasn’t sure at that point if me being a woman would be a barrier. It did not say so in the application pack so I went ahead and applied. On my first interview I asked the Dad Matters UK Operations Manager about me being able to do the role effectively not being a dad and I was assured the evidence showed that men and women can both effectively carry out a role such as this. As you
might have already guessed, I was successful in my application and have proudly been the Warwickshire coordinator for the last 12 months.
I was daunted to join my first team meeting with the other Dad Matters coordinators, at the time I was the only female. (We have now been fortunate to be joined by 2 more) I had no idea how they would feel about me. I was welcomed with open arms by a bunch of the most wonderful human beings I think I have ever met. Their passion, commitment and empathy is awe inspiring. The heart and love they give their roles is amazing. Dads in the areas in which they work are lucky to have them.
So that’s why I’m here. I will continue to support new dads and advocate for them wherever it is needed. I will continue to be part of an amazing team that work tirelessly to support and bring about positive change across the UK. I love my job, it is a privilege to do.