While growing up in Ukraine, in a family with very limited resources, it took Oleksiy a very long time to get on a stable financial footing, to a place where he could enjoy life, travel, and be able to spend time doing things that were not just work. But then, his daughter was born and started to take all of his time, preventing Oleksiy from doing things he has been meaning to do for so long.
This situation lasted for a while, but everything changed once she started to speak. Being able to talk, even little, allowed Oleksiy to accept her as a person and to see that all their efforts were not being wasted. He could now see that she was really enjoying their time on the playground, that she had opinions about the world she was living in, and in general, was a human being that could be fun to be with.
Friends, family, books, they all tell you that once your child is born you would love them unconditionally. What if that does not happen to you? Loving your child by default, without any conditions, is really hard to do, and sometimes it just does not happen right away. This, by the way, does not only happen to men, this happens to moms too, but the topic is so taboo that it is rarely talked about.
It is almost expected from parents to play with kids and to enjoy it, but what if you do not have any emotional connection with your child and you cannot seem to find it? The play becomes dreaded mind-numbing work, rather than fun. You do the same thing over and over again, swing and swing again... Exactly the same thing every time, same games, same toys. It is boring, really boring! Never mind that being exhausted after works makes it even worse.
Friends and family were not much help either. Beforehand nobody said anything about how hard it would be to raise a child; only once they had kids did they start to share all the difficult parts. Publicly you are expected to be happy to enjoy parenthood. Once you are in the same boat though, now they start to share the difficulties. If you knew what you would get into, it is possible you would nott have kids; maybe that is why people do not share it with future parents.
Moms by the way don not necessarily love spending all this time with kids either, but someone has to, and very often the burden of child-care falls on moms, at least in our North-American society.
Oleksiy says that when you look at his situation from the outside, it may look like the father does not love the child or doesnâ€™t want to help his wife, but that was not the case. He wanted to, but in the mids of things it got really hard to snap out of it and to find a way.
Lucky for Oleksiy, once his daughter stared talking, he could see those previously boring things were actually really fun for her. Perhaps it is okay that he was not enjoying it, as long as it was bringing her joy. Now Oleksiy finds it interesting just talking to his daughter; her feelings, observations, likes and opinions. There is a real human being inside of that little person's body. That is the most interesting thing.
Knowing that you are not alone in this and that other people may be experiencing this, that is important. It would not make you feel broken in some ways, and perhaps give you tools to use in order to get over it.
Oleksiy really loves what he does for work - that is his hobby and his favorite thing to do, which means he actually enjoys working and no matter how much he works, he likes it and keeps working. On one hand, spending more time with his family may have helped to connect with his daughter faster, but he is also addicted to work. It requires work to actual stop himself from working and to go spend time with family. Now that is more interesting to be with his daughter though, he finds more reasons to be with her.
After talking to Oleksiy's family structure we realized he and his wife inevitably run on a "classical system" where he is the sole bread winner and his wife is the one taking care of the baby. They did not plan it this way, but it is working, for now. However, as his daughter is going to start school, they are building their life in such a way that his wife will be able to do what she really wants to do, photography in her case. This is critically important because although caring for a child is exhausting, and not being able to work could be very demoralizing for a lot of ambitious women, simply knowing that this state is not permanent and things will get better could already be tremendously helpful.
People who had more than one child or grown up children would tell you that your only responsibility at young age is to make sure your kids are fed and cannot hurt themselves. Do not worry too much. All the stress you self-impose on yourself is not going to make you feel any better. Do the core things right and you will figure out the rest. Do not worry about little scary things, do not worry about the future education and friends, when your kids like 6 months. Figure it out one step at a time. Note: things do come very fast.
Side note: It is really painful to raise a child in a very small apartment. There is not a lot of space for the child to run and play, no backyard for fresh air, no place for relatives to stay when they come over to help out. If you can afford it, it is very useful to move to a house. Be aware though, you will start to become a slave to your possessions. Somehow, even if you did not have much to start with, you will start to accumulate material goods, and chores. Furniture will take up space, floors will need to get washes, garden will need to be trimmed; next thing you know, you are spending all your free time maintaining your house. That is no fun.
Oleksiy has been working remotely for most of his life, which allows him to be comfortable, close to his family, and to work at any time that he is awake. In fact, there was a time in his life when he would work for 48-72 hours straight; he was paid on hourly basis and getting paid was important. He does not recommend doing insane hours like that, but just knowing that you have that flexibility is important.
Overall, working remote makes you a better person. Not only can you work in the comfort of your own home, remote works also gives you control of your own time. No commute, no traffic, no anxiety. It is perfect. As a family guy, remote work is great because not only can you be with your family throughout the day for little great moments, but if something happens and your wife and kids need you, you are right there.
While only four years ago Oleksiy could not even understand why would people do sports, he has transformed into an avid trail runner, losing a ton of weight, regaining control of his sleep and rejuvenating his mind. Listen to the podcast to hear about his view on how running can be an exceptional way to reduce stress and to take care of your body.
Give running a try, whether it is outside on the pavement, through the park, or in even just on a treadmill at the gym. If you like it, join a local running group. Your new friends will help you to keep going and to get through the hard parts.
Do things that keep you happy. Parenting, life, work. Just do it. Oh, and talk to your significant other about those issues you might have. No sense at keeping it bottled up for two years.
About Rad Dad
Rad Dad is a podcast about the lives, decisions and view of successful, intelligent, and peculiar parents. Fun stories, insights, and of course, occasional parenting advice.