Despite it being an incredible thing, being a dad can be pretty isolating at times. Your focus is to care for your kids with everything you have. It does mean that you can lose yourself a little and even though you’re part of the loveliest tribe, you can have these moments of feeling isolated. A few months back, I was invited to be part of the first Dadventure Festival. I had no idea that there was such a thing as a community of dads on Instagram or anywhere else for that matter. It was discovering these fathers and hearing them speak so openly that probably led me to seek some help myself. This week, I was with some of these fathers; fathers from all over the place. At first I thought, that the only thing that bonded us really was the fact we weren’t virgins but I was wrong.
Having arrived back yesterday I’ve had time to reflect on the experience. I’ll be honest and say that there was some nervousness about going as I felt that the others were in a different league to me. There was also some apprehension about heading off with a big gang of males as past experience showed me that it can sometimes be a case of alpha male posturing and macho one upmanship. But, I needn’t have worried and I met an incredible group of men and fathers.
There was no pretending that family life was awful nor that it was easy either. I’ll never forget one father phoning his children one evening and the excited sounds of his kids sending all the dads to grab their phones and do the same. People shared incredibly brave stories of losing their children, struggles with mental health and overcoming incredible difficulties. We did yoga at dawn at the foot of Snowdon together. We swam in cold rivers and made fires together. We helped each other climb mountains in a storm together and shared whisky to warm our bones on our return.
I gained knowledge, friendship and a sense of overwhelming community from this experience. But, I also gained something else too and that’s the importance of listening. When you listen to others, they open up and so do you. When you listen to instinct then you find truth. When we listen, change happens and community grows. Thank you to Skinner for doing all this. I’ll be forever grateful. (P.s. I wonder if The Dad Lab is the first person to gain more followers in the time it takes to climb Snowdon than attend an average Wrecsam game)