3 October 2019

The journey of fatherhood

Mo Bro Curtis Leung on how becoming a father changed his life, and the toll it took on his mental life.
Men's Health | In the Barber Chair
4 MIN READ
 

The journey of fatherhood, without question, is the most rewarding and important experience of my life.  This doesn’t mean it’s been the easiest though.  As any parent will tell you, there are some challenges that no number of books or websites can prepare you for.  Lack of sleep, financial adjustments, sex life, etc.  One thing that I didn’t expect was the feeling of isolation. 
 
I’ve always had a really tight knit group of friends that would hang out pretty much every Friday night. When my wife got pregnant, I was obviously realty excited and wanted to be there for her but it meant nights out with the guys became less frequent. I was one of the first out of my friends to become a dad. I would still get the invites to come out, but declining gave me a sense of silent resentment.
 
After our daughter was born, it was all hands on deck at home.  It was tough, but we loved this new life.  Once things started to stabilize and got into a routine, it was time to get back out there to be around adults a little bit.  The problem was that I wasn’t getting invited to much, and when I did there was always a point to make sure I knew what I had been missing out on.  It became clear to me that I had left an old life for this new one.  I didn’t blame them for how they responded, they simply just didn’t understand my world of parenthood.

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Curtis leung with his daughter and son 
 

Parenthood can get pretty challenging at times, and there were some moments where reaching out to a friend to talk would have been helpful.  I married my best friend, but we were fighting the same battle.  Sometimes it’s just good to have an outside perspective.  Don’t know if it was pride, resentment or just awkwardness, but reaching out to someone didn’t seem possible.  I was on my own. 
 
Fortunately I was able to take a step back when things got tough, assess the situation and step back in with a new perspective.  I found it really important to be able to connect with other dads.  Not necessarily people that I’m friends with, but other members of the “dad club.”  They could relate, understand everything that I was feeling and share some of their war stories.  It was really therapeutic and helped me reground myself.

 
“Parenthood can get pretty challenging at times, and there were some moments where reaching out to a friend to talk would have been helpful.”
 

Fast forward 6 years, and most of my friends now have kids of their own.  As they went through the early stages of parenthood, I was the seasoned veteran who shared advice on what to expect and how to handle the wonderful challenges of having a baby. 
 
Movember became a very important cause for me to support after two fathers I knew (one whose son was a year old at the time), unexpectedly took their own lives.  It became close to my heart recently after my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017.  It’s partially because of causes like this that my dad is living cancer free today!  I intend to be around for my kids as long as possible, and knowing how to take care of my health plays a big role in that.