My son was born in July 2019. It was one of the greatest moments in my life as being a dad was one thing that I always looked forward to. I worked very hard in my life and business to set myself and my family up financially so that I could be as involved of a dad as possible…a super dad. I was living my dream as super dad, going to all doctor appointments, spending the bulk of the day with him, reading, bonding, napping, etc.
Then in Spring 2020, COVID19 hit. Those plans I had to be super dad vanished almost immediately with a 5-month shutdown of my business followed by a reopening with extreme restrictions and an overall lack of consumer confidence resulting in a 70% loss in revenue. That story is a topic for another day. The funny thing is, I was still doing all of those super dad things although it was due to being shut down, not by my own choice. After initially losing her job, my wife managed to find another job which helped support us, not entirely, but enough to get by temporarily. That left me to be the stay at home dad while doing what I could to get my business back up and running eventually.
All of this information was just to set the stage for the theme of the story I am about to tell. I thought I was killing it as a dad and was beaming with confidence at all I was able to do despite a pandemic and financial worries.
Shortly after my son’s first birthday we had his 12-month checkup. Due to my super dad status, my wife’s work schedule, and COVID restrictions of only one parent being present, the responsibility was squarely on my shoulders. I got this, no problem.
The appointment was at 8:45am and was on the other side of the city. Normally it is not a problem, only a 10-15-minute drive. However, the bridge that serves as the main entry/exit to my neighborhood was closed and the detour takes you far out of the way. Not to mention it was during rush hour in Seattle which is a nightmare. No problem, I took all of this into account and was prepared well in advance.
The night before I packed the bag with extra diapers, clothes, snacks, and toys. We got up early, had breakfast and got ready to go. Into the car seat with plenty of time and off we go. Traffic was bad but expected. We got to the pediatrician right on time, which for me is 15 minutes early of course.
Our regular pediatrician was on maternity leave and we were seeing a new doctor. We will call him Dr. P (no not Master P…ugh!). We went through all of the regular routines with the nurse, weight, measurements, questions, etc. All was going well; my son was being great, and I was living up to super dad status. Then Dr. P comes in. I knew from the start by his demeanor that this was not going to go well. My son also started to become agitated, perhaps he sensed my discomfort, or he sensed this doc was a quack.
Right away, Dr. P started the barrage of questions:
Is he walking?
Is he talking?
What sounds is he making?
What are feeding him?
Are you doing this, are you doing that?
Don’t do this, don’t do that!
No small talk, no pleasantries. No vote of confidence to the first-time parent that he was doing a good job at anything. This was in stark contrast to our previous pediatrician that reassured us we were doing great even if we overlooked something or wasn’t doing something we should have been.
Like a deflating balloon, my confidence quickly went up in the air. To top it off, as he was leaving the office, he mentioned he was going to have a financial assistance program official call me to discuss my financial situation since my business was closed and we were struggling financially. He didn’t ask me, he told me this was going to happen. Wow. Talk about beat down. Super dad went to super dud in no time at all.
For the rest of the day and for many days after that, I felt awful. I felt like the worst dad ever. It took me several discussions with my wife and others before I regained my dad swagger. It was amazing how I could go from feeling on top of the world to feeling like a complete failure in a matter of minutes, especially since I felt I took so much time, care, and effort into being a dad. It was, is and always will be, one of the most important things to me.
Martial arts teach perseverance. Get knocked down 7 times, get up 8 times. This doctor sure did knock me down and for a while I thought it would knock me out. When things like this happen I often turn to what I have learned in martial arts and try to apply it to my current situation.
My hope in writing this is that other dads out there can relate to this story. I also want to reassure you that you are a super dad just like me. Don’t let what others say make you think otherwise, even so-called experts. Be kind, present, loving, caring, fun, protective, compassionate, understanding, and live by example and the other stuff will fall into place.