Well, firstly it’s a massive honour to be a Guest King, although I’d prefer to be a ‘Prince’ as ‘King’ makes me feel old, but that’s just the truth isn’t it? I’ve now got grey hair on my head and my chest but nowhere else yet, thank god!
I’m married, I have a mortgage and I have two kids. Billie, aged 2 and Ziggy, who’s 9-months-old. Man, when did that happen? Yep, I’m not that 22-year-old on the dance floor at Cargo Bar, wearing my best Tarocash shirt, drinking Woodstock and coke, trying to make eye contact with the ladies (very unsuccessfully) anymore. A lot has happened. The nights where I would pick-up a kebab and go home in a cab by myself are a far and distant memory.
Since then, I married the woman of my dreams, I lived out a childhood dream of hosting my own capital city radio show, I’ve interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment, and got to travel the world. But nothing compares to what happened at 12:50 am on February the 7th 2015: I became a Dad.
Now marrying Bella was and will be the happiest day of my life, but the birth of my children sits equally in some sort of parallel universe (kinda like the Upside Down in Stranger Things but happier, although the actual birth had its Demogorgon moments).
It was amazing, 16 hours of labour (maybe not so amazing for my Bella) but the end result was just incredible. It was a natural birth, so there were no curtains or screens, everything was happening right there in front of me. When it came to crunch-time, the mid-wife asked me to hold one of Bella’s legs up and push it back. “Holy shit”, I thought, it’s happening! I didn’t know if I was going to watch the birth in the lead up to it – blood and I aren’t the best of friends – but the moment I heard the mid-wife say “I can see the head” I thought “Why am I missing out on this?” So, I watched this miracle take place, first the head, a nose, shoulders and then this mini-human just came out.
It was my job to tell Bella if it was a boy or a girl as we didn’t find out during the pregnancy, but I was a wreck. I think I was covered in more liquid than the bub, I was a sobbing mess, like snot and all, but eventually I managed to get out “It’s a girl!”
Boom, we were parents, just like that. 3 days later we were leaving the hospital with this little person who is totally dependent on us. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that the same person who was once on a podium, drinking bad bourbon in bad shirts, now had the responsibility of raising a child.
I remember struggling to work out how to clip up the baby seat. I remember driving home from the hospital at an average of 5km/h. I remember walking through the door and then, it was 3 months later. I honestly think there is something that happens to your brain in the first few months that makes you forget how hard it is. Maybe this is so you’ll have another child, which we did, 2 years later. A little boy.
When Billie was born my contract at the radio station wasn’t renewed and I was out of a job. I had offers but nothing that justified me going to work and Bella staying at home. So, we made the call that Bella would return to work and I would become a SAHD; a Stay-At-Home-Dad. Controversial? Is it? Yes, I’ll admit, it took me a while to confidently say that’s what I was, because even people I was close to would say “Yeah, but when are you going to get a real job?” Or in the supermarket when Billie would be crying in the pram (like babies do) there would be constant comments from strangers like “Maybe it just needs its Mum”.
Yes, that’s really what stunted my confidence in the beginning. People’s reactions didn’t surprise me though. I think that comes from years of gender stereotyping and that unfortunate macho, misogynistic mentality of ‘looking after the children’ is a woman’s job. I still (on the brink of 2018) know men who have never changed a nappy or even worse, never spent any one-on-one time with their kids. It makes me sick, and a little sad.
I worked in radio for almost 13 years and I think that prepared me for raising children. Toddlers are just like ‘talent’ or programming executives; they think that the world revolves around them, that they are always right and are prone to a tantrum every now and then but if you give them food and tell them how much you love them, then they’re fine.
I feel so lucky to know that from the moment both of my kids were born that I have spent every day with them. I was there when Billie and Ziggy first sat up, when they first crawled, and when they first pulled themselves up. Billie’s first steps were to me.
Now the downside to this is Billie says “Gday mate” to people when we’re walking down the streets of Newtown. She enjoys watching the golf and she asks if we can go to the pub for a beer. So maybe she’s spent a little too much time with me, but as I sit here and write this I’m also enrolling her into pre-school for the first time next year.
Don’t get me wrong, parenting is hard AF, and there are moments when you think, how can I run away and not come back without anyone thinking I’m a bad person? So pre-school (a few days a week) will be good for all of us, but it does break my heart to be sending my little mate off. The truth is, as much as she needed me since she was born, I’ve needed her. She is my best mate and I’m going to miss her like hell. Poor Ziggy, he isn’t going to be allowed to leave the house until he’s 6. I feel so blessed to have this life and I thank you for letting me share it with you. I’ve just realised I’ve got shit on my shirt, so I’m off to Napisan, bye.
Matt Baseley is a 34-year-old former pastry chef, who dreamt of captaining the Australian cricket team or playing the Phantom on Broadway but he wasn’t good enough at either, so he ended up working in commercial radio for almost 13 years. Matt is now a stay-at-home-dad, who also features as ‘that guy’ in a few TV commercials and a reporter on Channel 7’s Sydney Weekender.
Matt and Billie also have a ton of fun in the kitchen making healthy(ish) food in a simple, realistic way. You can follow their cooking adventures here. #CookingWithBillieCoco