Oliver Driver's honest approach to parenting
Number two has arrived. Oliver Driver takes an honest approach to surviving the hard and cherishing the great.
Before I speak of how bone-shakingly, relationship-strainingly and sleep-deprivingly hard our life now feels with two kids, I want to say thanks to the people who make it a bit easier. Which is not everyone, that’s for sure.
All too often new parents are faced with hard-edged humans who lecture on what we should be doing differently. Many of these folk are childless, I assume, for nothing knocks the edges off an opinion about kids quicker than having one or two of them. But other people are soft and kind and to these I say a deep and heartfelt thanks. Special mention to the doctor (with the ironic name) at Greenlane who took something scary and big and made it small and manageable. To our two midwives, who are superwomen on a daily basis, and to their young trainee who is set to follow suit. To the staff at Birthcare who reminded us of the things we needed to know and the things we didn’t need to worry about. To the friends and family who brought food, love, laughter and understanding. To my bosses and colleagues who let me leave – not because I had to, but because I needed to. To my daughter’s daycare, who gave us the most precious thing of all: time. And to everyone else who didn’t judge us or ‘tsk’ at us under their breath as we tried to find our feet as a four in supermarkets and doctors’ offices, cafés and carparks. I cannot thank you enough because, as I said at the start, two is hard.
And we are the lucky ones. A lot of the time my wife and I are together to share the hard, to talk about it, make jokes about it, to make it smaller if not easier. But I do have to work and that work can take me away for days at a time, or as good as anyway, with me up at dawn, not home till dark. Again I am lucky because my wife, like many wives I am sure, is an amazing woman. She understands our son; what he needs and wants, what calms him and what sends him to sleep.
But for a while we became brittle and sharp. While in the past we always credited the other for having the hardest day, we began to feel resentful that perhaps ours had been harder than theirs. For the first time since meeting her, I found myself sad, lost and – if I am honest – desperate to just run away from all the responsibility. My wife wondered out loud if I had postnatal depression, which I assured her was absurd, that there was nothing wrong, but neither of us believed me. I should have shared my feelings out loud, discussed them with my best friend to show how thin and fragile they were when exposed to light and conversation. Keeping feelings to myself gave them a power they didn’t deserve, a power my family could easily defeat with a kiss or a hug, a bedtime story, or a son asleep on my chest.
We’re fortunate: our love is strong and as we talk about these thoughts, we recognise that – while scary – they’re normal. For I never really wanted to leave my family. I only know what love is because of them. My sadness was never rooted in my heart or soul, it was just the result of fatigue and separation. How scary must it be for those who go through this and don’t have the time, resources or magazine space that is sometimes required to force these fears to the surface so they can be burned away.
This column started out as a way to document the birth of my first child. It was to be a funny take on being a new dad, but you are a real person reading this and I have met you. In Cotton On Kids while buying purple sandals. In the waiting room at our midwife’s clinic. In the queue to buy coffee and at the playground near my house. You are real so I feel you deserve the realest of me: my fears and faults, my shitty moments as a husband and dad, because it’s hard and I want you to know that I know how hard it is; for my wife, for you, for your partner. It’s hard and we will fall at times and that’s okay.
I don’t think being a parent or a family will ever be easy but then great things never are. And this is the greatest thing any of us will ever do. This is everything.
Oliver Driver mostly directs television, film and theatre. He also loves dogs and motorcycles. He has made many things in his life but he is most proud of his one-year-old daughter and two-month-old son.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 40 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW