If I had to pick one of my favourite blogs not just by name but content David Mellor’s Potty Adventures is right up there on the list. I really am an advocate of the great outdoors and have recently purchased a camping hammock and tarp after hearing great things from David.
So I was really excited to interview David on his introduction to parenting and how one of the most stressful times became something so amazing.
Thanks for the interview David, love your blog and the content and photos are amazing, can’t wait to try out the hammock. For those that don’t know you tell them about your children and what you like to get up to with them.
My eldest, Jesse, is 3 while my youngest, Amelie, will be two next month (September). Because they are so young I can’t really claim that they have any hobbies as such. That said they have amazing social lives. From swimming lessons and football classes to joining me in the mountains and on camps; they just love to be active. They are happiest when they are outdoors and have the freedom to roam and run. In that way they very much like me.
Would you say they are more like you?
It’s pretty weird that they are almost the perfect amalgamation of my wife and I. They both have my passion (short temper and impatience) but they also have my wife’s caring and loving side. In terms of looks Jesse probably resembles me while Amelie looks like my wife.
Seeing the adventures that you go on, was you always an adventurer or did you have to give anything up?
I was very adventurous. Always out in the mountains, thrashing my mountain bike or going to gigs. In our pre-child days we had travelled extensively. I disappeared to Africa for an entire summer once without giving it so much as a second thought. I don’t think I ever had any big, standout life goals though. I just wanted to be happy and pretty much loved for the moment.
Having had many years of misfortune and then luckily hitting the jackpot with IVF, I know you’ve shared a similar story. Would you mind discussing it?
We had a lot of trouble. We had been trying for about 3 and a half years until finally we embarked on our IVF journey. This was easily the hardest and most emotionally trying thing either of us have been through. After several tragedies and lots of ups and downs, and just as we were thinking this particular round of IVF (the 4th I think by then) would be our last; we fell pregnant with Jesse. We were so nervous that it would all go wrong again but it didn’t. He was our little miracle. If he wasn’t enough, after thinking we couldn’t get pregnant naturally we jumped back on the horse (so to speak) without thinking that we needed contraception. Not long after Nat came down to breakfast one morning looking like she’d seen a ghost. She’d felt strange for weeks, taken a pregnancy test and Amelie was cooking away naturally.
That’s amazing, congratulations. What strength. I take it you were at the births. What did you think?
Yes, I was there from start to finish for both. They’re amazing experiences. I think on the first birth I was very apprehensive about seeing my wife’s bits dramatically destroyed by an alien-like creature. When you’re there, it couldn’t be further from it. Nat actually said how calm I was which I think I’ll always be proud of. The only traumatic bit was maybe seeing the placenta flop out into a tin dish!
What about the first year of being a Dad to Jesse?
For the first 6 months or so of Jesse’s life we seemed to give up virtually everything. Our outdoor adventures very much took a back seat, we barely left him with a babysitter to enjoy some adult time and I even insisted on visitors using hand gel before they held him. Soon enough I realised they are not made of porcelain and we started to question why we couldn’t enjoy the same sort of life we had before with just a few adaptations.
I felt that was one of the hardest things for anyone, do you have any other tips for the first years?
I’d say letting go of the textbooks in the first 6 months. Enjoy it, it’s such a rewarding experience like the first time I carried my babies to their first mountain summits, or having my kids rock along on top of my shoulders at music festivals, and sharing with them my love for the great outdoors. One of my funniest moments came at a music festival where I watched my one year old clap along to Snoop Dogg rapping about marijuana at a major music festival.
Hahaha classic! Glad you got the opportunity to enjoy life, sounds awesome. Did you have a good support network?
I think all of the support that I needed was available from family and friends. We are so lucky to have our families living pretty nearby and have a great bunch of shared friends (we were school sweethearts so our friendship group is the same now as it was when we were 15) so I’ve always had someone available to talk to, ask questions of, and occasionally sound off at.
That’s amazing, it can be a lonely time when there’s no one to turn to.
Some people aren’t as lucky as us and lead quite isolated, vulnerable lives. I just wish they had people they could count on to help and guide them.
Couldn’t agree more. Do you consider yourself to be a good parent?
I think I’m pretty good but I reckon I need to relax from time-to-time. I wouldn’t do anything again, life is too short to dwell and look back. The first year was amazing but ridiculous at the same time. We tried to do everything by the book and soon learned that we ourselves were the authors of our very own adventure. Once we started doing things our way and more naturally, we felt more relaxed about parenting.
Did you have any outside challenges or pressures from work?
As an English Teacher in a large secondary school I’m lucky, because of my weekends and holidays, that I get to spend loads of time with the kids. I just wish Nat had my holidays so we could get away as a family more often. We both have professional jobs (Nat is a Social Worker) and neither of us ever wanted to give up working. The toughest decision was sending them to nursery at about 9 months old when Nat returned to work. We had offers from family members but it was a personal decision that we wanted them to have a couple of days a week at nursery. Even though it was our personal preference, it was still hard leaving them with, what were then strangers, at just a few months old.
On the discussion of nurseries do you have any tips for those looking for their first time, or potentially with a move etc?
Visit all of the nurseries in your area, drop in without announcing your arrival and read their Ofsted reports online. Then you’ll get a sense for a place. We went for the one where we felt most comfortable and where we made an immediate connection with the staff. Our kids have loved every minute there.
So what has being a Dad changed about you, your relationship or view on life?
Being a dad has been amazing. Yep, we no longer go to Thailand and Bali on holiday but it has given my life more meaning and purpose. I used to fill it with very selfish things, objects and pursuits and now everything is about family first. I’m still impatient but I’m FAR more patient now that I ever was. I think it’s brought my partner and I even closer together. It was us against this little thing haha.
Thank you so much for the interview, amazing to hear that IVF finally worked and it sounds like you’re definetly making the most of every minute. Love your blog and urge anyone else to read it. http://www.pottyadventures.com.
If you enjoyed reading David’s hoenst and open story about becoming a Dad, comment below and I’ll make sure he receives them all.