Follow me on my journey through the last twelve months…

During the COVID-19 lockdown, I became a dad on the 28thof November 2020, and was soon seeking out help for my mental health and for support with attachment and bonding, this was after a traumatic event with my son. Something that I often speak openly about and have written various blogs for, but today I’m marking one year of since I changed careers. Iwas a youth worker for my local authority and became a Dad Matters Co-Ordinator for Home-Start HOST.

Follow me on a journey of self-discovery, not onlyprofessional but as a dad too. 

Over twelve months ago, I was at a time in my life where I felt like I was not achieving anything professionally and felt as though I was unable to take ownership of any of the work I produced. I was not feeling any job satisfaction whatsoever. I was volunteering for Dad Matters at the time, this was something I felt rewarded for doing, as though I did have ownership over the work I was doing as a volunteer, and I felt appreciated and valued by the other co-ordinators.

When the opportunity to work for Home-Start HOST as a Dad Matters Co-Ordinator for Health Inequalities came about, it was something I could not miss out on and applied right away.I was very excited about the opportunity to apply. I was given an interview, which was very nerve wrecking and at the time I believed I did well in the formal interview stage of the process but lacked in the presentation. Boy was I wrong, when Kieran rang me to offer me the job with such brilliant feedback, I cried. 

When I handed my letter of resignation into my old job, I felt like a huge burden lifted off my shoulders and truly saw how much the local community I worked with appreciated me, and how happy they were for me moving career.

I started working for Dad Matters on the 1st of June 2023. The best first day of my life.

Though I was high spirited and eager to get into the job, I actually didn’t know what I was doing. Well, I sort of did but I felt like an imposter. The reason for this was because I wanted to help change the lives of dads, but I had no idea how to do it. Ironic really, because Dad Matters changed my life. 

I attended Solihull Approach training, completed PIMHS training, and various other training opportunities to enable me to do the job. 

I spoke at an Institute of Health Visiting conference in Manchester early on in my new job with Dad Matters, talking about my experiences as a dad, it was easy because I was talking about myself but it was not helping me to lose thisimposter syndrome.

I shadowed outreach at antenatal clinics with my colleagues and watched them deliver the New Dad Workshop. It looked simple but how was this helping me lose the imposter syndrome?

Nothing I did made me feel like I was good enough for the job. Nothing.

The fact I was given a case load early on into my new job should I have given me the confidence but I had this niggling feeling in the back of my mind that I was set up to fail. As though I was just an imposter and unable to help these dads.

I recall delivering a New Dad Workshop to a small group of new dads who were very nervous but excited at becoming dads – something we all feel and experience when we become new dads. It was refreshing and reminded me that we are dads just supporting other dads, nothing complicated to it, we just want to help dads be the best dads they can be but at the same time, none of the dads asked questions or challenged anything I said, they just believed what I told them.

Not long after, one of the dads I was supporting one to one made a comment to me, this dad said to me “I just want to be the perfect dad like you.”

My heart sank, the imposter syndrome began to creep back in, does this dad really think I am the perfect dad? I had to say something to this dad, and I did, and this enabled the penny to drop for this dad.

“I am no perfect dad. I’m a dad just like you. Times have been difficult; I haven’t understood my son when he tries to communicate with me. His cries have been difficult to endure, and I have shouted at my son when things have gone wrong. However, the important thing I do when these things happen is I repair the rupture. I enable my son to feel safe again, I take ownership of my actions and apologise for this, and most importantly, I hug my son and tell him I love him.”

The dad stared at me in disbelief and responded with only one question “I am a good dad, aren’t I?”

This is when the imposter syndrome mask fell off; I am just a dad supporting other dads because I want to show the incomprehensible power of attachment and bonding that can be built on the raw foundations shared between dad and their baby. 

This gave me the fire in my belly to reach out to every dad I met, to travel and do outreach at every clinic I could, advocate for each of the dads I work with, educate every professional I engage with. However, this became my downfall, I became burnt out, as though I was failing, and an imposter. 

This is part of the twelve month journey were I needed to accept I wasn’t full of a limitless supply of energy and needed to practice what I would advise new dads and dads to be. Be kind to myself and look after myself. I took time off work, spent time with my son, my partner, and family and friends. I enjoyed the alone time too. I recharged my batteries and was able to recognise after a week worth of reflection, I had autonomy, I was able to be proud of the work I was producing, I was valued by my colleagues and manager, and most of all grew as a dad.

The last twelve months has been nothing but learning, thriving, and adapting, not only professionally, or as a dad, but as a human being too.