We all have an idea about what a Dad is.
A lot of our standards are set by our own Dads but even people like me that grew up without one around much have an expectation about what "Dad" means.
Just to break it down to a few universal basics of what Dads do.
1. Go out to work to provide for the needs of the family.
2. Keep their wife and children safe and happy.
3. Fix things - from emotions to leaky taps.
4. Do the fun stuff, playing games and making a mess with the kids.
I am finding, however, that special needs is redefining what I can be and what I need to be.
Not just me but also their Mum is working out where she needs to be a bit different too.
All of the kid's daily needs have caused me to ask a few questions about my role in their life.
1. Leaving for work means that your family won't be able to cope that day?
2. You can't protect your wife or children from the pain that they're going through?
3. You are helpless to fix the problems that are occurring?
4. There is so much medication, treatment, basic caring and hospital time that you don't know where having fun and playing games is going to fit in?
Writing this blog is proof of what I'm talking about.
Evidently, Dads don't normally do blogs and neither would I if I weren't a redefined Dad.
A lot of lonely hospital time, a need to share and a knowledge of rarely talked about issues have lead me to doing this - hoping that it may be helpful to others.
The reason I want to talk about this is that there is such a strong expectation of a Dad, that those who don't understand your situation can sometimes heap a great deal of judgement upon your shoulders.
Oh, you don't work? What do you do all day? Can't your wife look after the children?
I've only this month come to the decision/recognition that my family need me home more than at work and that there really aren't any hours left in the days to be out at work.
But already I feel the weight of the question that comes so often especially to men/Dads - so what do you do as a job?
I'm just using work as an example, of which there are many. As a special needs Dad we need to be less harsh on ourselves.
I mean... It's in the title - SPECIAL NEEDS Dad, your child/family need you to meet their needs.
I believe that gives us the true definition of Dad - Your job is to be whatever your family and child(ren) need you to be!
If they need you at work, get out to work. If they need you to take care of them you take care of them.
If they need you to learn how to do physiotherapy, operate a breathing machine, become an expert in oxygen or passing tubes and making feeds then that's what you do.
My two girls have redefined Dad for me because they've needed something else, somebody different and that's okay.
I didn't sign up to be just a Dad, I signed up to be their Dad.
So we can be proud of redesigning this role and our family will be proud that we've become redefined Dad's just for them.