#BeADad – It is tough, it is a struggle; learning to be a dad.


Being a dad is tough…really tough. I have been in the middle of a wonderful campaign interviewing, capturing images of great dads and I am humbled. Each dad I capture…each man I interview…each image showcasing a dad and their children…I am reminded of my struggles.

I am at that age when many of my friends are starting to get divorced and it not only breaks my heart but it makes me even more disillusioned about my ability to break the cycle.

My dad left my mom and their relationship has impacted me in so many ways. For years I never realized that dad and mom splitting multiple times, starting from my childhood, has left me fighting my insecurities. Honestly, the idea of a stable household is a foreign concept to me, a culture that I have limited knowledge and experience as a stepping stone for my marriage.

I have been struggling with this for the past few years, and I think it has become apparent since Rosebud was born, that I needed to figure out why I am searching for what it means to be a dad. I have been on a mission to bring language to fatherhood, manhood, and what it means to be a good husband.

I started seeing a therapist a few months ago and a lightbulb turned on during one of the sessions, imagery that I had lost deep in my memory. I have blackholes in my memory and I cannot remember many of the good times as a child, the happy times when I was a kid; specifically my mom and dad happy and having fun. They were married over 20 years divorcing when I was a sophomore at Clemson. During the course of their marriage, they separated numerous times. I can recount in my memory dad leaving us three times. Here is the lightbulb, the realization…I never experienced a long term, consistent, stable family household as a child. I am forced to learn my own path as a father, dad, provider, and man.

What does it mean to #BeADad…I am learning. I am struggling to find what that means. I am trying to do the best watching and learning from the men around me. I am trying to learn language that drives me to create a secure household. I am still disillusioned because I am a product of divorce.

I have to count to remember how many times my dad has been married. I have to count the number of times my uncle has been married. My closest grandfather, who past away few years ago, divorced my Mimi, which means my mom grew up in broken home. It is built into my social and cultural norm to always be prepared for the worst, for change, for a new house, new marriage, something different, something uncomfortable.

As a former journalist, I was taught a code…3 shots ahead 2 shots behind. That means to always think about the next two shots you will capture with your camera, yet being mindful of the last two shots you just captured. I am always thinking ahead, preparing for the net steps, the worst, the challenges, the opportunities, thinking of a back-up plan, hoping the worst situation is only just there for preparation.

I am a father, a husband in search of a code…a way of life. I am in search of the right words to use and the right way to see life through the eyes of other fathers. Being a dad is new to me, not because I am father to one, beautiful daughter…but because I am struggling to remember the good fatherhood memories from my childhood. It is hard to picture those items…picture those times when dad I spent time together. Every now and then, some will emerge…but they are few and far between. Not because they they didn’t happen, but because I cannot remember them.

I love Rosebud and I love Sarah…and I am enjoying my time working on this project for ManUPstate called #BeADad. It is teaching me through these images, these interviews, these videos little pieces I can pull together in the hopes to be a better father!

I hope you will take time to follow along our #BeADad campaign and watch our journey to becoming better fathers, go to manupstate.org/beadad.