For many men, the last few months have been like getting repeatedly smacked in the nuts by the mother of all curveballs. COVID-19 has shaken up relationships, derailed careers and cranked up the pressure at home. Here four dads share their private revelations from lockdown including hopes, fears and sudden obsessions with online poker
“Do I just cling on or should I make the leap?”
My missus reckons I’m having a mid-life crisis. I told her I’m only bloody 34! But having some time at home has given me a chance to re-evaluate. And I’ve decided I want to quit my job and start my own business.
There’s a couple of reasons behind all this. I work in ad sales and let’s just say it’s hardly the golden age for the industry. I’ve still got a job for the moment. But it’s not exactly a safe bet moving forwards. So do I just cling on or do I jump before I’m pushed?
The other big factor is that I’ve loved being at home over the last few weeks. My son has only just turned one and it’s been awesome spending more time with him. If I’d been stuck in the office like normal, I wouldn’t have got to see him take his first steps last month (he’s still a bit wobbly but he’s getting there!). And I want to find work that allows me to be at home more. Especially as my wife plan to try for another one soon
Most importantly though, my mate and I have got a start-up idea. We’ve done a fair bit of research and reckon that it’s got real legs. My wife says it’s not a good time, she keeps telling me the economy is screwed. But what I’m trying to explain to her is that’s just the macro picture. People can still thrive in a recession.
“I’m stuck in this vicious cycle of anger and guilt”
I used to think I was a pretty easy-going bloke before all this. But life under lockdown has shown me just how much I struggle to keep a lid on my temper.
I’ve got three boys who are seven, five and three. To say they’re full-on doesn’t tell you the half of it. The house is a fucking zoo! They’re constantly yelling, fighting, whingeing – at the weekend one of them kicked a football through our bedroom window! I know that boys will be boys and look, they are all good kids. But being stuck around them 24/7… I tell you, my nerves are shot!
I feel like I’m stuck in this vicious cycle of anger and guilt. One of the kids will do something stupid or dangerous (or both). I’ll lose my rag and end up yelling at them. They’ll get upset. I’ll feel really, really guilty. So I’ll tell myself that I’ve got to try harder, keep my cool better… But then that process just repeats itself again and again, multiple times a day. Yeah, if I’m honest, I am disappointed in how I’m handling things. I’ll just try and stick at it, I guess,
“I rely on sport for mental escapism”
Before COVID, I hadn’t realised how much I rely on sport for mental escapism. It’s more than just a distraction. It’s how I cope with things.
That might sound lame but it’s true. Whether it’s watching the NBA, tweaking my Fantasy Football line-up or looking at the next fixtures for the office tipping comp, sport is a safe place for me to stick my head for a while. It’s almost like a mental sanctuary, a way for me of get away from everyday stress at work and at home. Obviously, nothing much is being played right now. But I still find myself scouring websites for scraps of info. My partner just rolls her eyes.
What have I been doing instead? Look – I wish I could tell you something productive that I’ve got back into cycling or I’ve retiled the bathroom. But what’s actually happened is I’ve started playing a lot of online poker. So far, I’ve been doing alright out of it, too.
“I’m fantasising about moving back home”
I’m originally from Belfast. I’ve been in Australia for 12 years and settled down on the Sunshine Coast with my wife and two little girls. I love my life out here and always figured that I’d stay here for good. But now I’ve started having second thoughts.
What happened was my uncle died of cancer. I was really close to him, too – he was like a father figure to me. But with all this Coronavirus business, obviously I couldn’t fly back for his funeral. My sister ended up FaceTiming me from the service so I could “attend”. Watching the funeral on my phone in the middle of the night. I tell you, the whole thing was surreal.
But it’s also got me thinking. Not being able to fly back to my family has made me very aware of how far away from them I really am. And I’ve found that unsettling. Really unsettling. I’ve rebuilt my life here, my wife is Aussie and, yeah, this is absolutely a better environment to bring up the kids. So why is it that I suddenly can’t stop fantasising about moving back home.