Fatherhood – What I’ve learnt so far

*Listen to this podcast here.

Well, um, I am a role model. I am her number one model for men, and so there is a very fucking important role that I have. And it’s something that I cannot take lightly. And gentlemen, if you do – sit the fuck down and check yourself: who do you want your daughter or son to witness?

[00:00:29] You’re listening to the Everyday Legends Podcast. The show that is dedicated to helping everyday men build legendary relationships; with yourself, your partner and your world. I’m your host Mike Campbell and the aim of this podcast is simple: to help you navigate life with more clarity, more confidence, and purpose driven- action. With plenty of stories, a load of lessons and some loving straight talk. So let’s get started.

[00:01:01] Welcome back to the Everyday Legends Podcast. I’m your host, Mike Campbell and what am I talking about? Fatherhood. Today we’re going to talk about fatherhood. Haha. Should I do that again? Suppose I should do that again. Fuck it. You know what? Let’s not do that again. And the reason I say that is because, well, being a new father, I mean, sometimes he’s just to roll with what’s in front of you.

[00:01:26] And if there’s a little bit of a mistake, whoops, you got to go again. First of all, before I dive into content, I’m going to speak about my reflections on being a new father. My daughter Kaia just turned three months old, a couple of days ago, depending on when you’re hearing this right. But a couple of days ago for me, but, as to when I’m recording this, and I’m going to explore my experiences, I’m going to explore some stories. I’m going to explore some of my immense challenges. And also the things that I’ve been learning and noticing, um, when it comes to growing a human being OMG. But before we do that, remember if you’re new to this podcast – hi, how’s it going? I’m Mike. Thanks for coming. If you’re a returning, Hey, great to have you here. I would love you to let me know what you think of the podcast. And that might look like heading over to Apple and leaving us a review, a rating, and a review of what you think of the podcast. It’s such a huge help for us, but also for the men who need to hear it because it helps get it in front of their eyeballs and the ear holes. In front of the earholes? In the earholes. You know what I mean?

[00:02:36] Like, click subscribe, click download, make sure you’re getting these new notifications when they come in. And remember in any podcasts that I do be a solo one like this, or one of my guests interviews, what I invite you, the listener, to do is not only listen and then maybe tick that off and say, Oh, that was a great podcast *cough hint hint* – but to listen in order to hear.

[00:03:02] What do I mean by that? I mean, don’t just listen to it. Don’t just put it on one and a half, two times speed. Cause shit, if you do that, my speech that’ll be very fast. And then, you know, go onto the next one or the next thing. But listen to hear; what is there for me to really hear? What is it going to land for me?

[00:03:22] What can I actually put into use? What can I implement? What can I take action on in my life? How does this relate to me? Because otherwise, if you’re not listening to hear, what are you listening for? Now, you might be a new father, you might not be, you might potentially be a father one day. You might have no desires to be a father.

[00:03:46] I’ll speak to that. I think. I’ve got some notes, so I’m pretty sure I put something like that on there. We’ll see how we go. But there is, I think a lot in here for guys who simply want to be better at being themselves. And sometimes that can be through the lens of fatherhood and being a new father. Cause let’s not forget – I’ve only been a father for three months now. So, it’s not as though I come with the most experience, but I come with a lot of other experience about being a man about being a coach for men around self awareness and getting your shit together and living a dope and legendary life.

[00:04:24] And that’s really what we’re here to do on this podcast. Helping everyday mean build legendary relationships with themselves, their partners and their world, and as a father; their children.

[00:04:35] So where I want to start with this podcast in terms of the content is speaking to a post I did a social media quite a few weeks ago. It was actually when Kaia was only – Kaia, by the way, just in case you’re wondering K A I A – Kaia Rey Norman Campbell is my beautiful daughter’s name.

[00:04:59] There’s a post I did on some social media channels when she was, what would she have been? Three weeks. And still rings pretty true for me right now. And so I’m going to read it. It’s only short, um, and then we’ll, we’ll kind of roll from there.

[00:05:18] So it starts as:

[00:05:20] Seeing Kaia’s little face is the best.

[00:05:25] Watching her in distress is the worst.

[00:05:29] In an instant my life seems to fluctuate between these two extreme points. Sometimes the ride needs me to hold on to direct and lead. Sometimes to let go completely to be swept away in the torrent, knowing calmer waters are coming.

[00:05:46] I’ve known all of this intellectually and practiced it in many other forms before now.

[00:05:54] But now it has this whole other element to it and like a crash course on it each day in case I forget.

[00:06:02] Note to self: be present, flex, direct, respond, ground yourself. Be calm. This little human is learning how to respond to challenges from you in every moment.

[00:06:19] Perfection is not the aim, presence is.

[00:06:27] Now, the beautiful thing I love about me recording this podcast right now is that my office borders on her nursery and her amazing mother, my wife, Nardia, is getting her off to sleep right now.

[00:06:40] And there’s going to be some crying in the background of this, quite likely. Cause there’s microphone is pretty dope and it picks things up. And I guess what, I’m okay with it. I’m doing a podcast about new fatherhood, so guess what – there’s some authentic cries in the background, ’cause that’s what this gig is.

[00:06:54] Alright. We might circle back on some of those points from that post later, But why don’t I go back to the beginning and tell you a little bit of a story about becoming a father.

[00:07:08] So where this starts is before I even found that out. There’s the trying, there’s the getting pregnant part. I’m not going to go into the details of the birds and the bees one would hope, you know that by now, but I’ll tell a little bit of a story to give some background perhaps on Nardia and I and having children.

[00:07:30] And it was something that. We had spoken about quite a bit. Um, Nardia is five years older than me. She’s uh, on the other side of 40 and I’m 38. Am I 38? Yeah. And. It was something that she had never really known that she wanted to have children. And that was quite a challenge for her. You know, I remember her saying on many occasions, I wish I just knew one way or the other, but being in limbo around, do I, or do I not? Where she fluctuated was more of a very much a challenge.

[00:08:01] I had never been someone who’s like, I’ve got to have kids, but the more I grew and certainly the more, um, nieces and nephews, my older sisters gave me, and the more time I spent with those little humans and just loved the role that I got to be in their life, the more I started to realise, you know what? I do want to be a dad.

[00:08:19] I want to have a mini version of me in some capacity. Fuck it. That’s my ego speaking. Like how cool would it be to have this little human that you get to mold and build a. Life and our relationship with. And so I became clear that, you know, I do want to have kids. And so we went through a period of trying and not trying and you know, all this kind of stuff.

[00:08:35] And then we think, no, let’s, let’s, let’s, let’s give it a crack, but we got to the point, you know, with Nardia’s age being kind of one of the main factors. Sorry, babe. Um, we went to a fertility specialist to get some tests done and all that kind of stuff and things are all okay. You know, Nards had to have a small procedure, um, on something that could have been related.

[00:08:56] And after that, after that, he said, look, you know, try for a few months and then if nothing’s happening, maybe we need to look at some support. Well, that few months happened, nothing happened. And, uh, to, to the specialist at that point, it was like, okay, now you look at IVF.

[00:09:12] So as, as a couple, we made the decision, you know what? We don’t want to go down that route. We don’t want to, um, go down there. And Nards did not like the idea of that in many, many facets. So the bottom line was we came the decision. No, we’re not gonna have kids. And so I had come to that, um, I had landed in that place. I had accepted that, I believe. And the desire for me to parent, you know, what I essentially, um, leant that to was – okay, well, I’m an uncle to a bunch of little humans and so, I’m not a father to them, but I get to be a father figure. And so I’m going to be the best ankle that I can be to those little people. And of course, you know, in the work that I do, you could say there’s an element of being a father figure in some sense.

[00:10:04] But to me, my nieces and nephews is where that focus really went. And then, there’s an evening last year. Yeah, September, maybe. I dunno, October where I’m sitting at my home here on the Gold Coast with my good friend JuVan Langford, who was on the last episode, I think. And we were  spending a lot of time to get it at the time because we were building – with the help of some great individuals – an event we held at Sydney Town Hall last November, 2019 in Sydney called Manifest.

[00:10:35] And JuVan, I spend a lot of time together. He was at my place now, just down in Sydney, running a course that she does, and I got this phone call from her. Now, I don’t know what was happening before JuVan and I were like, okay, deep in discussion and planning and all this stuff. And, but before, in terms of like, maybe Nards and I had spoken earlier that night or afternoon, either way, the phone call came through and something in my body told me –

[00:11:01] hm, something here and I got up and left the room. And then she told me, um, “I’m pregnant” and boom. I just like ha ha what? I didn’t really know how to react or respond, but there was a stunned element to it. And we had this discussion and, you know, I came out and JuVan, knew something was going on, definitely.

[00:11:25] And he saw the look on my face, I think, and he’s a very good, very, extremely good at seeing. And he said to me, uh, You know, “You right brother?” And I said, look, Iumm, pfffft, Nards is pregnant.” And so outside of Nardia and her good friend who she was with and myself JuVan was one of the, the next person to find that out.

[00:11:46] And I was very fortunate in that moment to have him there with me and to hold space and to support me. And, you know, one of the questions, very simple questions that he asked him was “How do you feel?” And it was interesting because I, I went into this stage of being in my head a bit and thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, and, and the, the overall theme perhaps of their thinking was worry and concern. because what happens if this doesn’t work out?

[00:12:15] And what, what, what, what, what, what if? I went into a lot of that space, and so it was hard, but then what was very clear in that was this immense protective drive came in. I, all of a sudden I felt so protective of Nards, and wanting to make sure that she was okay and that she was healthy and that she wasn’t, you know,, concerned, and whatever.

[00:12:41] Um, and, and there wasn’t like overriding and there was this intense predictiveness that, that came on board. And then that kind of continued, I think for the next few weeks, you know, it was kind of like one moment to the next. It was like, let’s get to the next scan. There was a lot of concern and holding back from like, just accepting that this is happening now, because what if it doesn’t happen?

[00:13:00] And you know, perhaps the baby doesn’t,  you know, live? Maybe there’s a miscarriage. Like all these things are going on and it was very present for the both of us, but also for me. And I felt like if Nards was in that space, I needed to not just let go and say, but we’re gonna have a baby! And that’s gonna be awesome.

[00:13:17] I felt like I’ve tempered some of my potential joy and future thinking, I suppose, which was, you know, I just want to get ahead of ourselves, that kind of thing. And that was an interesting thing to go through and, you know, certainly reflect on.

[00:13:31] And then, you know what really came next was, um, a different level of our relationship, which I’ll speak to more shortly, but certainly having some different conversations.

[00:13:47] Right. And being invited to a new space. And, you know, as JuVan said to me on that night, here’s your next level brother. I cannot wait to see you step into this. And of course I could make sense of it intellectually at the moment, but perhaps what I’ll talk about on this podcast speaks to what’s that what that is actually asking of me. And then, and then came this next thing.

[00:14:09] And that was when we got to the point where, you know, they can advise you that look, there’s a much higher chance now that the baby’s going to go full term and you know, they’ve kind of talk about – you can share it with people. Although no one actually told us that shit. That was just the things that you hear from others.

[00:14:23] Anyway, we shared it with people. We did a little post on the internet, whoop whoop! And maybe I’ll show you that image in the bottom of the podcast page here. And what came next was two things. One just immense joy and celebration and congratulations from people. Which is beautiful, right? To feel that extension of love and the outpouring of support.

[00:14:48] And then there was this other thing. Which I absolutely know comes from a loving place, but to me it was incredibly obvious. And that was the expectations and, I dare say, projections that people had on the kind of father I’m going to be. And, you know, what I had to do was sit with it for a moment and go, am I, am I putting my own shit onto this?

[00:15:15] Or am I seeing what I’m seeing? And what that was, the best I can assist for a lot of people who see this kind of thing, was YOU going to be the best father. And I  know, it’s a very, you know, quite normal thing to say. But what seem, seemed to come with that from a lot of people, was this addition; what wasn’t in those words, but what was in those words – was because of who I am and what I do, I’m going to be the best father. You know, very aware and switched on. And, you know, I support men in and you know, I’m in a sense, bringing up men, and supporting them in growing through and outside of the little boy that’s inside of them, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:15:58] And so because of the work that I’m going to be, the best father. And. What it felt like was in, there was, uh, in a scense, pressure, but these expectations and projections from people.

[00:16:14] And I thought, isn’t that interesting. There’s different elements to this. One is the support and the love and the other is some of other people’s projections onto me. And I can take that, but I figured maybe some people wouldn’t be able to, maybe some people that would get too much, the pressure that comes from every person saying, Oh my God, YOU’RE going to be the best parent!

[00:16:36] Like, but what if I’m fucking terrified right now? What if I am absolutely shitting bricks about being a father about being in charge of the life of this human? They’re being 100% dependent on me. And then you add in everyone saying, yeah, but you, you, you and gonna be the best father.

[00:16:55] I thought fucking hell. A lot of people would be potentially very fucking challenged by that. And guess what? They are, because I have these conversations with men and all the time about what challenges them. And then it was really, um, an interesting thing. Because you’ ve got to thank for a lot of parents, expecting parents, but for a lot of men, cause that’s what I can speak to, those are the men who I do speak to, a lot of men are terrified of being their father or being like their father. And/or being simply not a good father, it might not be relevant or relative to their father.

[00:17:38] Throw on all that expectation projection, that might just fuck with things a bit.

[00:17:43] But for me, something else comes up when I start to think about that. And I think about, well, either way, as JuVan said to me, there’s a new level here available to you. And that’s something that fatherhood has presented to me, both for fathers, but also in mothers, of course, but also for even more so, but also as an example throughout our lives, fatherhood to me is an example of what happens on the other side of the unknown.

[00:18:13] You have to take a step. In order to develop the skills, the know how, the, the, the awareness, to become the person who is capable of doing those things. At some point, you are not capable of it. To get to that level, you have to take a step into the unknown. You grow, you develop those skills that knowhow, that capability only by stepping into the unknown.

[00:18:49] Once you do then, as the Hero’s Journey essentially outlines, can we develop those skills, and then we become the person who could comfortably handle that.

[00:19:09] But you can’t get that before you take the step that only comes by taking it. Right. And so that was me for fatherhood. Absolutely. I don’t know what this is going to involve. I get that people think I’m going to be a great father and maybe that’s coming from a more knowing place for those who are fathers or parents, but I don’t know. But if I’m going to sit there and be terrified on but but but but but I have to let go and have faith in myself, by the way, gentlemen, this is confidence, this is more importantly, self-trust. I do not know, had no fucking idea what fatherhood’s going to ask of me, but I choose – choose – to trust myself. I choose to trust that, regardless of what happens and what comes and what that journey asks of me, whilst I might not know in the moment I am able to find out and learn and grow and become that person.

[00:20:02] So that’s perhaps what I would speak to in terms of pressure and being terrified of being a father. Because then all of a sudden, boom: you’re a dad. And what happened for us was the major concern was Nardia’s age – she was 42 when she gave birth to Kaia. And so the major concern generally is we don’t want you going longer than 42 weeks,

[00:20:26] I think it was, because the risk of stillbirth increases dramatically for women over 40. even 35, uh, over 40 weeks. I think it is you’re 40 weeks. So, um, we are coming into that week and we had negotiated with the, uh, obstetrician that, uh, we could have, I think it was the week from 39 to 40. And if she hadn’t come naturally by then, then they would look to induce.

[00:20:49] To get into the specifics: inducing means things now go away from a natural birth and certain things can’t happen, and certain things do happen and Nards and I wanted to have as natural a birth as we possibly as we possibly could.

[00:21:03] We go in for a routine, check up, check up on that 39 week, I think, moment. And before we know it, we’re being kept in for observation.

[00:21:11] And before we know it again an obstetrician has come in and said “Ahhh that plan to have the baby a week from now. We think we should move that forward maybe to the other side of the weekend.” – It’s a Friday at this point – “maybe we should move it to tonight. How do you guys feel about doing that tonight?”

[00:21:28] And. Whew. Holy shit. Okay. Hold on. What? Wow. Okay. So Nards wasn’t ready for that. Nor was I. And one of the things that, that came down to in a logistical sense was we had practiced driving to the hospital. We had only pracitced during the day and the first thing that I’m doing is, well, if you’re going to induce her, she needs a bag.

[00:21:46] She needs things. Um, so can I, can you wait, I’ll go home, get all of her things and then come back.

[00:21:53] Yeah. Okay. We can do that.

[00:21:54] So, the next thing I know, I’m in the car and driving away from the hospital. My heavily pregnant – about to have birth wife. And not only that, now the Gold Coast is not terrible for traffic, but Friday afternoon 5:00 PM, which it was, that’s the worst time of the week, I would say to be driving around the Gold Coast.

[00:22:13] All of a sudden I’m driving away from that and I’m stuck in fucking traffic. Holy shit did a bunch of my shit come up. I’m fucking wild, I’m fucking trying to control shit that was out of my control. It really forced me to sit  – literally at traffic lights – and calm myself. How is this serving me right now? How do I want to be, what state do I want to be in when I get back to the hospital? Because my experience right now is nothing compared to what Nards is facing, which is giving birth, which is being induced, which is being fucking manhandled. Seriously. Uh, and so all of a sudden there was a shot of perspective, I suppose, to me.

[00:22:53] Anyway, fast forward through all of that and it didn’t go so well.

[00:22:56] We had an emergency C section and our beautiful little Kaia was born at 5:00 AM in the morning. And instantly there was just this sense of wow, things are different now. I don’t know what those things are, but things are different now.

[00:23:15] And then I can speak to those next few days in hospital. Cause Nards has had a C-section. We had to stay in a bit longer. And just the moments of joy, the moments of excitement, the moments of exhaustion. Uh, the moments of peace, the intense moments of stress, and then like this weird determined collection of every speck, every drop of colostrum, um, because you know, the, the breastfeeding didn’t go so well initially, and here I was milking Nardia.

[00:23:47] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That happened. And not only that colostrum, if you don’t notice stuff, tune in, and we’re not shy about talking about this kind of stuff, by the way. Uh, there’s not much of it. And if there’s only 4ml, not even that. So there’s only 2ml and every fucking drop matters. And the thing was, please if you haven’t heard this, so maybe I’ll put the drink, the link to it below. There’s the scene from the Monty Python’s  Meaning of Life, where it’s a Catholic family and I have the song and the song is every sperm is sacred. Now I’ve watched that. I used to have the CD of the Monty Python songs. And the song’s hilarious: “Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is good.”

[00:24:24] And it goes on. Can’t remember the rest of the lines right now. But the point being is taking the piss out of Catholic families and having a bunch of children. In the video there’s like 30 children or something. Well, fast forward to me getting every drop of colostrum that was coming out of Nards as we’re pumping and milking her and ah that song was just playing in my head the whole time.

[00:24:47] “Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is good.” And um, yeah, couldn’t get that on my head, but it kind of just brought me back to reality a little bit. It was a weird little moment and it kind of also made me realise like, Oh, this is going to be full of weird little fucking moments. Isn’t it? In amongst the unbridled, joy and love.

[00:25:06] Which, you know, it can change in an instant, they might be this like immense challenge, this immense frustration what’s happening with this baby? Why won’t it sleep? And they’re like in the moment, boom, just as unbridled love, and joy. And it’s like, what the fuck is just happening? What the fuck is just happening?

[00:25:22] And that was, I think, no, I think I know that was the experience to start with. And it has been at the start with right. It’s fucking brand new, she’s three months old, but in terms of those first few weeks, and so how I would sum up those first few weeks beyond what I’ve just explained, there was this amazing experience of falling in love with this little human.

[00:25:46] And I feel like, and I think Nards and I have spoken about this, but you know, there’s a lot of things in my head right now. So let’s just speak to my experience. I feel like I got two gifts there, and I’ve shared this with her. There was the gift that she gave of having this child and falling in love with this little human. And then there was also watching Nardia fall in love with this human. And now watching her be a wonderful mum to Kaia and I got to fall in love again, you know, I got the gift of watching that happen in real time. And what came with that was this whole new level of love that I have for Nardia and, you know, watching what she went through, but also how she looks after and cares for and loves and mothers our daughter.

[00:26:43] And, you know, and there’s this pride in that, and this immense joy and gratitude is at the fucking top of the list, how much I am grateful for and appreciate how she chooses to show up. And so where that kind of takes me now, is you know, there’s, these shifts in us, and one of the shifts is a shift in identity.

[00:27:06] And you know, not just in me as a father, not just in her as a mother, but us as a couple. Now we’re parents. And that, that shifts the relationship somewhat. You know, this is why some of the work that I do with men. For example, my course, the Better Partner Project, is helping men become better partners, but also helping them lead in the relationship to build a partnership; to be teammates. And this has been so paramount to to what we’ve been doing, uh, in our relationship.

[00:27:38] But also there’s this identity shift in me I feel as an individual, but also I see this in so many men, so I want to speak to it. And that is it’s different for every family, of course, depending on how they choose to do things.

[00:27:51] But for us, you know, we chose that Nards would essentially push pause on her business for a time. And I would be the sole provider by and large. And so I know that this is a role that many men and take on board. And do it swimmingly, if the only aspect of being a provider is working hard and bring home the bacon.

[00:28:09] But gentlemen, if you haven’t figured this out yet, so much more to being a provider. There’s the role model that we provide, there’s the love, the time, the presence that we provide, as I said, at the top of this perfection is not the aim presence is. Um, but also I do have to provide, I have to work on my business.

[00:28:27] I’ve got a business to run. I have to support us and the business has many aspects to it. Um, and one of those things supporting men. And so all of a sudden there’s more people that I’m, you know, and in relationship with and have a, uh, an impact on. I was going to say in charge of, but of course it’s not accurate.

[00:28:48] And there’s been a real challenge for me in this, not, not so much in the identity as a provider, because I know I am a provider, but it’s not, it’s not that narrow version that I think we’ve had for a long time. I provide many things, but I have to also provide a roof over our head, support in terms of paying the fucking bills, security, et cetera.

[00:29:09] Um, But I have to provide presence as well. And you know, I work from home. If you’re watching the video, this is my office. The nursery is literally through there, you know, this is the second story. And so, um, at all times, apart from when they’re not here, I’m very close to them. And so there’s this beautiful ability that I have to step in and see the smiles and be in moments and help out if Nards needs helped out.

[00:29:35] But, one of the challenges that I’ve found as a business owner, therefore, is stepping away from my business. Every time I step in there, I step away from here quite often, unless there’s learnings, like right now, these two things combining. And, but it’s a challenge. It’s it’s forcing me to form new boundaries around business, around, you know, parenthood around stepping into to the father role.

[00:30:02] You know, not long after I recorded this video, I’ll be going into parent mode for some time as I take over for a little while. And so one of the things that that’d be true for me, and I know to be true, this to be true for men. So men I want you to really fucking listen to this. As men we need transition time.

[00:30:18] And what I mean there, more specifically, and this is stuff I go more to in my program, the Everyday Legends Academy, is the masculine needs transition time; to transition into feminine mode, essentially. From being the provider, from being in action mode and get shit done mode and achieving results mode. And analytical, uh, detail focused, you know, logical mode. I have to transition into creative, nurturing, feeling, emotive playful mode.

[00:30:49] And that doesn’t just happen by going here, here’s the baby. And so we need practices. We need something that allows us to kind of which modes. And so for a lot of men that looks, you know, who work in an environment where they are in kind of masculine doing mode all day, that might look like that’s your mode all day, and then you come home we need to shift. If you don’t have a shift, if you don’t have that transition then you’re not as effective as you can be in your role, mode or your role as a father there. Being a caregiver in nurturing, you know, your children or your relationship, whatever it is, um, you know, or your pet or yourself, if you’re single, right, we still need nurturing.

[00:31:28] And so we have to have some kind of transition. And that could be, you know, like a walk around the block. It could be going in and having a shower, putting on a completely different, you know, change of clothing. It could be listening to certain songs as you meditate. Anything you’ve got to work what it is for you.

[00:31:40] But if you’re in a relationship, what I strongly suggest is you need to have the conversation with your partner, because if it is like legit, that case of like your dad, you come home, and your partner has been getting smashed all day, parenting your children or child. And then they’re like, I need a fucking break, here’s the child. It can feel very selfish to say, but I need to have a transition time. And so the conversation here is in order for me to support you and our family, et cetera, et cetera, as best I can. I know I need to transition. And so what I asked for when I get home is either I do something when I get home or I’m going to be home five, 10 minutes later because I need to have this transition so I can show up for you more powerfully.

[00:32:15] It’s a conversation that you need to have. And that is a mode that absolutely has to happen. And so I have to do that in, in you know, days, half days when I’m with Kaia. At the end of the day. And then in little moments, I do a little transitions because otherwise I’m not as effective in that mode. My head still in business, I’m still in work and that’s not how I need to be for her.

[00:32:36] And so where there, um, kind of now takes me is something that’s been on my mind, a lot – I’ve been reflecting on. And it is the importance of other people in supporting you in being, having a role in the upbringing of your child. And, you know, we currently live in the Gold Coast, our families – this is in Australia – our families are all in New Zealand.

[00:33:00] We’re in the middle of COVID still, borders into New Zealand and into Australia are strict. We could go back to New Zealand right now, but we’d have to quarantine for two weeks and then we wouldn’t be able to come back to Australia. So the long and the short of that is: we have no family around us. We have no community that is family. The only community we have as the community that we choose.

[00:33:22] And across this time, I’ve actually been listening to an audio, a series called the Alchemy of Initiation. I’ll drop the link for it below by Francis Weller. And it’s talking about initiation, but the, one of the main things, the things that I took from the five part series was: the importance of, the power of, the community and helping “raise the individual” regardless of your age. And we’re all going through initiations all the time. And one of the integral parts is, if you think about the Hero’s Journey – and again, for those who know the work that we do in my program, we explore this quite a bit.

[00:33:59] There’s the returning back to the ordinary world. There’s there’s, there’s what you’re bringing back to the community. And, you know, one of the things that Francis Weller talks about in his work is that the work, you know, personal development it is a bit of a misnomer because it’s not about the person, it’s about the community.

[00:34:15] And so what I’m really, starkly aware of right now is that we don’t have this great big community around us that we had as humans traditionally for so long. You know, it took a village to raise a child. Well, we have a child, but we’re also all children. We all have our inner child inside of us. And so I know that not only is Kaia missing out on her family and her family and missing out on her, but me and Nards, we’re missing out on the knowledge that we would have passed down to us from our “elders”.

[00:34:43] Of course, that’s something that we don’t really tend to have that much anymore. They’re just grandparents, but they’re not, might not necessarily have ‘Elder’ roles. And that role of the elder is a conversation I think that I’ll have on a podcast sometime soon.

[00:34:55] And so there’s so much that I can’t control with that, with the borders at the moment, but I’m just, I’m very aware that there’s things that we’re all missing out on. You know, everyone in the community is missing out on that. And when I take that away from the, the, the context of fathering or raising a child, the point is still extremely accurate: we need community around us to help us grow, to see things that we can’t see, to learn, to be able to be supported, to be able to ask for support.

[00:35:33] And what that is reliant on, which is what most men struggle with. And I know it is true for a lot of new dads, because I speak to them, is being willing to ask for support. And it might not be “Hey, how do I father my child?” It might be “I’m fucking struggling right now. I am deprived of sleep and I feel like our relationship is getting away on us.”

[00:35:57] That person that you’re going to speak to, doesn’t have to answer your problems, that don’t need to be a therapist. But they can listen. They can hear what you’re saying and bounce it back to you. Or they can say it’s fucking hard, dude. I have experienced that too. Maybe it might help if we chat about this stuff from time to time and we might be able to support each other. But that is reliant gentlemen on being willing to ask.

[00:36:21] And so one of the things that I’m consciously doing is building community around me. Now I do that all the time because I my entire business as about community. You’re all part of it. Well, you can be, but you are in a sense, but my coaching program’s all about community. But also in my life, you know, I have other friends who have young children and they’re in similar situations to me.

[00:36:41] And so part of community, I think now, and the society that we live in is we get to build the community that we want to be in. And, you know, I want to be able to have other people who look after Kaia and she can go to them and, you know, they can learn from him, but they can be cared for by her as well.

[00:36:55] Not only so they get, she gets different, um, styles and examples of who to be and what a human is, et cetera, but also, um, you know, me and Nards get to work on part of our relationship, part of our identity as a couple, as lovers.

[00:37:12] Uh, but you know, I know this is stuff that so many parents go through. And one of the funny things that’s really anchored to me and Nards as well, and this is, there’s so many things that are landing for us now that it’s like, ah, I get, I get this now that I’m a parent. I can’t believe I didn’t know this beforehand. I can’t believe you know, the gifts or they’ve given or how I’ve shown up for certain family members or friends, you know, they’ve had children before, like now I know – give them some food. Go around and, you know, fucking clean up their house for them. Do shit. That’s super practical. Uh, yeah.

[00:37:43] Anyway, um, yeah. Now, where that takes me to next is the reflections on something that I’ve been reflecting on, but it was also a question that I got, someone asked me a little while ago beyond the questions of like, how’s the sleep? It’s like, well, actually it’s pretty, pretty good. We, we think we’re doing pretty well.

[00:38:02] We don’t have a yardstick, but we don’t feel like we’re sleep deprived. And that also brings that some shit like, do we, do we shrink from that? Do we tell people – yeah, yeah, yeah. Where actually it’s no, we’re doing well. We both feel rested. Anyway, that’s the truth.

[00:38:15] But the other question is what kind of father do I want to be?

[00:38:18] Which, the first time I was asked it, I was like, it feels like an odd question now that I am a father, like, it feels like a beautifully sensical question before you’ve been a father. Well, certainly to me, my experience, and now I’m like, ah, what kind of a father do I want to be? The best I can be? Is that the answer?

[00:38:35] Um, and, and where that led me to start with was something that I see for so many men. And this was, well, I know what I don’t want to be. Right. And as I said before, I don’t want to be like my father. Or, you know, insert perhaps another person there. And there’s danger in that. There’s power. There’s potentially huge power in there.

[00:38:57] There’s a, there’s an example. Here’s a bunch of things that I don’t want to be. But, like anything in life, if I focus on what I don’t want to be, who I’m not going to be, what I don’t want, then I’m focusing on that. And so the invitation where that must take us is inquiry as to therefore, what do I want? What do I want?

[00:39:20] Who do I want to be? And so where that question takes us – what kind of father do I want to be? Invites to me to ask – Well, who do I want to be? First of all for myself, so, therefore, I can show up as that person for my daughter. Because I feel like oftentimes the focus on what I don’t want to be can lead to an overcompensation.

[00:39:41] You know, my, my, my father was super strict and disciplined and so I am going to be lax and have no boundaries. And let my kids get away with anything and be that fucking little shit that turns up the party where it’s like, put some fucking boundaries around that kid, would you, Jesus.

[00:39:57] Um, or, you know, maybe go overcompensate and you become a helicopter parent, but you don’t let your child have bumps and bruises and learn to be resilient and have scrapes. So they know how to figure out where the edge is and how to, you know, explore themselves without everything having fucking pillows and cotton wool around it.

[00:40:19] So who do you want to be? The, the, the thing that came to mind for me was quite simply, I, the kind of father I want to be is a place of safety for her, that my job is to make sure that she is safe.

[00:40:41] And, you know, the moment that she was born, she was yanked out of Nardia because it was an emergency C section. And “Hey, here’s your baby!” And then like a few minutes later, I was called around to the other side and I was able to, you know, be with her and cut the umbilical cord and so on. And then once they did some things and stuff that they had to immediately, we got her onto me and onto my chest and I got to have this moment. And the first thing that really came out of me was – I will look after you. You get to be safe with me always.

[00:41:16] And that’s the thing that I kind of keep coming back to. And where that actually takes me as to something that I understand to be a Cherokee proverb and something that Nardia and I, shared at our wedding, our celebration of love, and it was this –

[00:41:31] A woman’s highest calling is to lead a man to his soul. So as to unite him with source. Her lowest calling is to seduce, separating man from his soul, leaving him aimlessly wandering.

[00:41:48] A man’s highest calling is to protect woman, so she’s free to walk the earth unharmed. A man’s lowest calling is to ambush and force his way into the life of a woman.

[00:42:00] I’m going to repeat that last part: A man’s highest calling is to protect a woman, so she is free to walk the earth unharmed. So she is safe to fully express herself, essentially. And his lowest  calling is to ambush and force his way into the life of a woman. So reflect on that, gentlemen, take it as a fucking yardstick, please. My gift to you. Of course, not my gift, it comes from, I believe the Cherokee people.

[00:42:27] So, my job is to make sure that Kaia is safe. Where I have seen that previously as in regards to Nardia and other woman that I am in a relationship with. Absolutely. And hopefully every woman, I want to create that for women via the men that I work with. And of course, vice versa, right. When it comes to the top part of that; a woman’s highest calling.

[00:42:54] And so, it’s now taken this shift from being focused, purely, essentially in relation to Nardia and making sure she’s safe, protected to walk the earth to be her authentic self, unharmed. Then now it’s shifted to Kaia to make sure she’s safe to roam the world, the world, the earth unharmed. And one of the extensions of that, therefore, in who do I want/the father I want to be is –

[00:43:30] I am a role model. I am her number one model for men, and so there is a very fucking important role that I have. That is something that I cannot take lightly. And gentlemen, if you do sit the fuck down and check yourself. Who do you want your daughter, or son, to witness. And if you are not that person right now, what does that require of you?

[00:43:53] What does that ask of you? What do you need to do? And more importantly, because we focus far, far too often on the doing: who do you need to be? And so that’s the question that I get to ask himself, who do I need to be to be safe? Who do I need to be? And you know, there’s some things that come up for me, there’s there’s plenty, it’s, it’s ever evolving.

[00:44:17] But, at the simplest level, it’s that safety piece, which comes back to being a rock, to being the place of safety, of love, of compassion, of joy, of strength. And so actually what that speaks to as being “the best version of myself”. Right. But where that  then it takes me to is I’m also modeling one half of the relationship.

[00:44:47] And so there’s this huge shift, as I said earlier around the identity in the relationship, as well. How does this change? What happens in the, in the relationship? What does, what is she learning? But then more importantly, um, for us as a couple and for you as a couple, what changes in the relationship? Many things.

[00:45:06] And I think what changes that is at a really kind of foundational level is our needs, you know, we, one of our primary roles, I think in a relationship is to understand what are my needs, where do they come from? Do they come from a place of lack and kind of, you know, previous childhood wounding, let’s call it trauma? Or are they coming from a place of love and enoughness?

[00:45:26] And so we get to, um, reflect on our needs. And often what will happen for a lot of parents, in my expereience, is their needs take a huge backward step, a leap and they go to the back burner. Where they, all of a sudden have zero needs and the child is the most important thing in the world, and you have to suffer. Now where I see a lot of men fall down here, and life in general, is that we’re very all or nothing with things.

[00:45:51] That would be an example. And I would say, no, if you are weak, if you are broken down, if you are disconnected, then you are not as effective for that child that needs you. And so the answer is not to be a completely selfish prick and focus on yourself, because of course you have a child, it depends on you.

[00:46:11] You have a relationship that depends on you. The relationship is what fosters the child. The child is also witnessing the relationship. It’s all symbiotic. But it means What are my most important needs? What gets to sit down for a little moment and be put aside? How can I meet my needs? What are my needs in relationship? Where are they coming to that?

[00:46:33] You can see that this is inviting you to have some conversations with yourself. It’s inviting you to have some conversations with your partner. And if you’re not with your partner, you still have to have conversations around needs. And this might, if, sorry, if you’re not with the mother of your child, um, you might have another partner, same thing, still going to have these conversations.

[00:46:48] And so what often happens is our needs get set aside. And if our needs get set aside, guess what happens? A bunch of shit potentially, depending on where you take it. But often for a lot of men, and you know, I reached out to my community and asked for some guys to share and ask some questions. And one of the guys spoke to this example of his own, very bravely and courageously, and openly, but also I know this to be true for a lot of guys, is that – when he had a child with his partner, in his life at the time, now that we know, you know, has kind of “hurt little boy” inside was ruling a lot of his life. A lot of his need was based on the need for affection and being wanted and being reassured and validated. But all of a sudden had a child and the mother’s focus went 100% on the baby and there was not any on him.

[00:47:47] And so a grounded, mature adult who has figured his shit out and knows his needs and knows what’s his responsibility can know that: cool, I am secure in this relationship. I am secure in myself. How I can receive love and affection is X, Y, Z. And I can speak to my partner about that. Whereas the little boy says, Oh my God, my partner doesn’t want me, I’m not safe in this relationship. I’m not secure here. I have a fear of abandonment because my parents split up and left me, et cetera, et cetera. And so, I’m going to leave. I’m going to fuck things up. And what this person did was he went and cheated. Which is a horrible thing. But our job is to look at that and understand it, from compassion.

[00:48:28] And we can se, man, that is not a good thing. And it was not an effective thing in his relationship, but we can make sense of why it happened. His little boy was desperate for reassurance. He was terrified of being abandoned. And so what is often the case – he went and did the abandoning because it proved the point: I’m not lovable. When I let people love me, huh, shit happens. Even though he was the generator of it.

[00:48:48] And so, one extreme case perhaps. But what it asks us to do is to reframe our needs. What are my needs? And my needs right now have shifted a little bit. Most of them are still very, very fundamental, but how they play out, how they are met is different and they have to be because there is this person – the little human is so cute – is 100% dependent on us.

[00:49:10] And Nards’ number one role in that right now is being the nurturer and the caregiver. She is looking after her – most of the time. And I am of course, a lot of the rest of the time, all of the rest of the time, because no one else is around. And so we have to sit down and communicate with ourselves and each other.

[00:49:29] What do I need? Certainly in the relationship, do I need to feel wanted, and valued and appreciated? If I do, what does it look like? What’s my role and what can I share with and ask for from my partner? Are they capable of doing that right now? Have the conversation. And this is something that I just think is, so God damn important in all the work that we do is that we have to be talking about how we communicate.

[00:49:51] You’ve got to communicate about your communication. Because otherwise if you’re doing it in that moment there, guess what? We’re not very good, especially when it’s conflict or my needs are being met. And we act out and perhaps we react, is that we go into it, in some sense, fight or flight mode. When we’re triggered, when needs aren’t being met, when we’re in conflict. And, you know, the shortest way to put it as we don’t have acc- we can’t think as straight, we don’t have access to the same amount of resources.

[00:50:16] And so, when you have time and space, and if you’re not finding it, fucking create it. You have to communicate about  how you do these things, how you meet your needs, how- you know for, for Nardia and I: Nardia knows that she needs to have space away from both of us. She needs to be able to get to the gym and workout. Cool. It’s fucking important for her to then be able to show up in our relationship and as a mother. If I’m just saying no, no, no, you – I can’t take that time away from my business because you’ve got to do that. Then I’m missing what is going to make her weaker versus what will make you a stronger and more capable. So we have to communicate about this stuff. And so for us, a big part of what that means is planning. Have to plan shit. I have to plan time. We have to plan this when it’s plan that. That’s okay. Because structure actually brings freedom. Then we can do the things and be ourselves.

[00:51:05] And so one of the things that is central to this, for me in our relationship, but also for those out there, and I see this in the men that I work with, is building partnership, being teammates; on the same page. Because we’re, you know, as we see it, a lot of, um, parents can fall into and perhaps it’s a societal thing that we’ve perpetuated, is that a child is number one.

[00:51:28] And I have to say that I disagree with that. Because of the- if the child is number one, by default what that’s saying is that that’s a blanket statement. And if the child has number one, that means that we are always last. And if we last, the child suffers. And so what I invite in that statement is exploring nuance.

[00:51:47] How can the child be number one when it needs to be? And how can we be number one so that we can be the best parents and individuals and couple modeling relationship to that child. And you can see how that actually feeds back to what’s best for the child. And what’s best for the child is sometimes for mum to go and have a workout and some time away from us and vice versa and whatever.

[00:52:12] I’m interested to know -if you listen to this:  how that sits in your experience? Is it accurate? What comes up there for you? Please reach out. Share. Hit me on Instagram and share in my DM’s on social media, on email – let us know what that brings up for you and you know how that actually has played out for you guys. And again, one of those things that I’m very much learning: it’s easy to say before you have children, well when we are parents, we are going to do X, Y, Z, and yes, guess what? Ha it’s funny things change. That doesn’t mean that they change and they have to change drastically to the things that you didn’t want to be. Um, but curveballs and part of, as I said before, part of the idea of the next level is I can face whatever comes. Ah but facing is certainly very present.

[00:53:04] And that is the challenges that I feel like I’ve been facing. And so here’s an interesting one that I’ve been reflecting on. And that is, as I spoke to earlier about when we first found out that Nardia was pregnant and what came up around, you know, like holding back from allowing ourselves to just fully be with it and no, but cause what if it doesn’t happen?

[00:53:23] I’ve found myself holding back from joy a little bit. Which is to say allowing myself to ponder to explore, to dream about Kaia growing up about certain ages. You know, if it’s a conversation here at school or, you know, as a teenager or, you know, her having children, all these kinds of things require vulnerability.

[00:53:47] It requires me to let go of what if that doesn’t happen, because what that’s doing, it’s preventing me from experiencing full joy. Cause even though that’s the, the future thinking that’s happening in the present too. That’s how that shit works. And not allowing myself to fully experience joy is going to absolutely stunt and limit my experience.

[00:54:13] And the logic is often, you know, so I can prepare for a brace for the worst if it happens, but guess what? That doesn’t happen. And I know that logically, but something I’ve been reflecting on, that I have been preventing myself from fully experiencing. And so that’s a challenge. That’s something that I’m working on.

[00:54:30] And I don’t know if that’s been the case for you as well, but it certainly has been for me. And then the other challenge is an interesting one because I consider myself to be an incredibly calm person. I believe calmness is one of my super super powers. Got there eventually. And the that’s been tested more than ever. Because guess what? There’s moments where I am on the verge of losing my shit. Like, fuck, what the fuck are you doing now, child!? Calm your fucking self. Jesus. Well, in that moment, I am not being calm. I am not being the model of calmness. I am not being the grounded, loving adult that she needs in that moment of challenge of struggle of whatever suffering, of immense discomfort and distress.

[00:55:26] What I’m doing in that moment is I am being a reactive child and that is not calmness. And it is certainly not grounding myself and being the person that she needs me to be in that moment. And that’s something that I’ve been reflecting on, that what I’ve often considered to be one of my greatest strengths is the thing that is probably being challenged the most with this amazing little human.

[00:55:50] And so we’re that brings me to now is where I started this podcast.

[00:55:57] Seeing Kaia’s little face is the best.

[00:56:00] Watching your in distress is the worst.

[00:56:04] In an instant, my life seems to fluctuate between these two extreme points. Sometimes the ride needs to be to hold on, to direct and lead. Sometimes to let go completely to be swept away in the torrent, knowing comma waters are coming.

[00:56:19] I’ve known all of this intellectually and practice it in many other forms before now, but now, and has this whole other element to it and like a crash course in it each day in case I forget

[00:56:30] Note to self: be present, flex, direct, respond, ground yourself. Be calm. This litle human is learning how to respond to challenges from you in every moment.

[00:56:45] Perfection is not the aim presence is.

[00:56:51] And that covers my reflections and my experiences of new fatherhood.

[00:56:58] I trust that you can take something from this. Please, if you have questions, feel free to ask.

[00:57:04] Please share this, if this resonated with you, the man that you think could benefit from it.

[00:57:11] And of course, as always, hey, pass this podcast on, let us know what you think about it, where you find podcasts, leave us a review so that I know how this is landing for you.

[00:57:21] If there’s more stuff that you want me to talk about, we’ll feature.

[00:57:25] Thank you for joining in for this somewhat more personal version and in perfect timing. little Kaia has piped up behind me. I suspect that might come through the audio. Thank you for joining in until next time. Keep building that legendary integrity.

 

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