Fatherview: Ryan Parker

Ryan and Jackson

Ryan Parker gets shit done.

An actor, musician, photographer, writer, husband and father, he’s been there/done that and is still doing it. From the Be Arthurs, to Caution: May Contain Nuts, to The Mayfield Dinner Theatre (and on and on), Ryan makes the Energizer Bunny look like an old pair of shoes tied together and thrown over power lines.

Four years ago I wrote this story about him when I worked for the Sherwood Park News and he still hasn’t slowed down. The only thing I think he hasn’t done is chop wood with his face, but to be fair, that wasn’t one of the questions I sent him so I’m not sure if he hasn’t.

Speaking of questions….SEQUE:

UnDad: For as long as you can remember, did you always want to be a father?

Ryan Parker: Perhaps maybe not as long as I can remember, but it was definitely a growing desire. I lost my biological father at a very young age but was very fortunate to have some incredible father figures throughout my life, including my amazing step-father, who I consider my dad. I’m certain both losing my father, and having amazing father figures throughout my life has increased my desire to be a parent. I also come from a big family and for the past decade I’ve been very lucky to be an uncle many times over. Once I met my wife though, I knew I wanted to be have children with her.

Has it changed how you see the world?

Without a doubt. My respect for my wife, my mother, my sister, my Nana, my Aunt’s, my cousins, my friends, strangers… has gone off the charts. Women are incredible. All of them. Also, Jackson is at the ‘crawling/almost walking’ phase, so I currently see the world as ‘baby safe’ or ‘baby unsafe’ zones.

What is one of the biggest surprises you’ve come across?

How well we can operate on such little sleep. As well, how fast it all goes. It seems my son is changing by the minute. Also, I knew I’d love our child, but never knew this type of love before… I seriously love him so much. Of course I love my family, and my wife, but the love I have for my son is a different love that keeps growing at a surprising rate.

Do you have an anecdote that (sort of) sums up your dad experience thus far?

I’ve been very fortunate to have work as an actor pretty consistently this season, which turns into a double edge sword as I’ve been spending time away from the house, like many parents (fathers and mothers) have to do in that first year. One week ago, for the first time Jackson cried when I left for work. At that moment, on steps to our home, I was filled with pure elation at the thought that my son loved me and was connected to me and then immediately felt horrible for having to leave him and started to cry. Parenthood.

What advice would you give other dads?

A lot of parents who ask me how we are doing, once I reply great, they say, ‘It just gets better’. So far, that statement holds true, every day, every leap that Jackson goes through, I just love him more, and as he develops along and starts processing more of the world it actually does get better. As well, there is a constant change happening with your babies ‘patterns’ and behaviours. There is a constant shift in everything, sleep patterns, eating habits, emotions the list goes on to infinity. So, when times are hard, just know it’s going to get better… and when times are great, just know not to settle, because a shift and change are right around the bend. It’s easy to yearn for the future and how wonderful it will be when you and your child are talking, or going for walks, or passing the ball, or watching your favourite movie or having their first camping trip or eating popcorn…. It’s equally easy to pine for the past, but as much as possible, try to live in the now. What’s happening right now on their journey is incredible. I promise.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Sleep when you can, even if the dishes aren’t done. Also, you can never give your wife too much support. For many fathers it’s easy to feel useless or ‘second rate’ especially if your child is breast feeding, because you can’t give that nourishment or safety they need. I’ve spent many nights sleeping way longer than my wife because she is awake soothing our son, it’s a terrible feeling to not be able to sooth your child, but it’s also an amazing feeling to know that your partner can and that the two of them are deeply connected. I support as much as I can, but I always wish I could do more, and if you have that mindset you will always be doing as much as you can. Remember, she held that child in her body for roughly 9 months, and then she gave birth to it. That’s a life of debt you have to her, so do everything you can to fully support her. And, when you CAN spend time with your child, no matter how frequent or infrequent it is… and spend that time WITH your child… whatever stage they are at will be over in the blink of an eye. Soak it in as much as you can.

To view Parker’s photographic radness visit PK Photography.

Jackson, Claire and Ryan.

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