This Daddy Does: Mark Maciver

When most people think of SliderCuts, they think of the highly sought after barber to celebrities such as Anthony Joshua, Stormzy and Tinie Tempah. But SliderCuts is so much more than this. A visionary, friend, and counsellor to his clients, SliderCuts has over 10 years of experience cutting hair and is highly respected in his community with a reputation that continues to grow.

As he celebrates a year since becoming a father to his one year old son, Makelo, I sat down with the man behind the brand, Mark Maciver, to talk about his journey into fatherhood and how he truly is a Dad that does.

What does it mean to you to be a Daddy that does?

A Daddy that does is someone who is more than a provider, more than a figurehead, more than a person that’s called on in states of emergency. It’s someone who is involved in their child’s life on a general, everyday basis. Changing nappies, feeding them, bathing them, brushing their teeth, creaming their skin, all of those things. My wife, Lakwena, used to say “thank you” to me for doing simple things like feeding him, and I used to say don’t thank me because you’re acting like it’s something I shouldn’t be doing. Saying thank you is as if I’m an external being in this child’s life. I don’t need a thank you because this is my duty, this is my responsibility. I’m not an outsider helping out.

I refuse to be one of those dads that feels like they’re second in the relationship with the child. I was up every night sleep training him, I feed him every morning and, if I don’t, then I get the bottle prepared and leave it by the bedside so it’s ready. If I’m there when he wakes up, I change him. If I’m there when it’s bedtime, I’ll bathe him and put him to sleep.

What do you enjoy the most about being a father?

I enjoy when I walk into a room and he runs up to me!

What’s the most difficult thing about being a father?

Being up at night, getting up early, feeding, changing, cleaning! The effort and time! Because I work long hours and also do other things, it can be quite tiring.

What do you think about the role of fathers in society today? How do you think it has changed from back in the day?

I think father’s are probably more involved in their children’s lives. I don’t know any statistics but I assume that’s the case with the way society has changed. More women are working so I’m assuming more men would be involved. With the people I know who have children, I think people are stepping up more.

How do you balance being a father with your career?

I sacrifice sleep! That’s it. Every Sunday and Monday he’s with me, whatever I’m doing and, during the week, I do what I can even if I’m tired. It’s hard, because it means I never sleep in. Since he was born, I’ve slept in twice, and that was only until like 9am!

Traditionally men are often looked at as the sole provider for their family which sometimes means they can’t be as actively involved with their children as they’d like…

Just because I spend this much time in my child’s life, doesn’t mean everybody else can; everyone’s situation is different. I guess I’m fortunate I have my energy levels so I can function with less sleep. I think some guys could do a bit more. There are times when I don’t have that energy so I won’t want to do stuff, I won’t want to bathe him, but I just will.

What advice would you give to fathers that find it difficult balancing their everyday hustle with fatherhood?

It depends on their mindset when it comes to being a father. Do you see yourself as a sub-parent? If you can see this is your duty, then it’s all about sacrifice – and sacrifices aren’t easy. Sacrifice isn’t something that’s a pleasant experience, you’re always losing something. That could be time, that could be money. You just need to see what’s most important and what’s needed at that time.

If you’re in a place where you need to make money to pay your mortgage, I’m not going to say sacrifice that to spend time with your child and then end up homeless. It’s about valuing everything. If you’re just working to make money but you’ve covered everything, well then maybe you can sacrifice half a day of work to spend time with your child. Or, as I’ve said to some people, do you want to your child to grow up and not really know you? Do you want your child to see you as the person who just disciplined them?

If you want to be in your child’s life then you have to make sacrifices. The same way if you want to go and buy a house, you’re going to make sacrifices in time by overworking.

To balance it out, look at what’s most important. What’s needed versus what’s wanted. You need to pay your mortgage to have a home over your head. That’s something you need to work towards. You want to get a new car. There’s a difference. You have to put the needs first because they’re essential, but the wants can be pushed back a few months to spend time with your child.

There was a brief image of you during one of your videos where you had Makelo tied to your back while you were working in the barbershop. How important is it for him to be able to see you in action at work as he grows up?

It’s important because I’d like him to see what his dad does. I’d like him to take on my ethics in what I do, see someone who works hard, and be someone who’s proud of his dad. The reason he was on my back that day was because it was a Monday. I don’t usually work on Monday’s but my client needed his hair cut. Monday’s I’m always with my son so I have to find a way to make it work. That wasn’t the first time I’d done that, though.

It’s just good for him to be tied in, to see what I’m doing and be around it. My wife and I have already spoken and, when he gets to an age where he can talk and understand things, I’ll take him along with me to work, especially in the summer and holidays. Or I’ll have him cutting hair. From when he can hold a clipper properly, whether that’s 4 years old or 5 years old, I’ll have him in the shop cutting hair.

Which other fathers inspire you, or have inspired you, in your journey as a father?

There’s a guy I know who, before I had a child, has always inspired me as a father. I saw the way he dealt with his children, how involved he was. Almost every time I see him, he’s with his children. He has a really good relationship with them. Before I became a father, and when I was becoming a father, I always looked at his situation and the way he did things. He was an inspiration to me because I just thought, I want that type of relationship that he has with his children, with my own.

There have been other men I’ve seen that are good fathers involved in their children’s lives, so I’m not knocking any other fathers I know. But this one particular guy, I like the way he just balanced everything. I saw him as a modern day father. There are other fathers, but he’s one that really resonated with me.

How has your relationship with your own father influenced or impacted you as a father?

Well, I haven’t got a relationship with my dad, I don’t really know him.

Has him not being there had an impact on you as a father?

I’ve never cared about not having a dad in my life so I won’t give you a sob story. It didn’t bother me at all because as a character, I just roll with situations as they are so, whatever the situation is, that is the norm to me. I grew up with my mum and my brothers, that was my norm.

I think when my wife got pregnant – mid-pregnancy – that was the first time not having a dad around ever bothered me. I started thinking about the things I was going to do with my son. I started thinking “I can’t wait to go to the park to play football with him”, “I can’t wait to be in a park exercising and he’ll be copying and imitating me” and stuff like that. I started thinking about all these things, when he gets older and I start giving him advice, and I started thinking that would’ve been nice to have as a child.

I think the impact is more to do with the fact that so many black people don’t have dads around as a standard. I remember a few years ago I was in the barbershop and we were having a conversation about it. I asked everybody that was in the barbershop at the time whose dad was in their life. There was only like 8-10 people there at the time, all black, but there was only one person who said they had their dad around. I might even be exaggerating, it might’ve been no one that had their dad around. One person said their father had passed away but it was still the fact of, how can we have a whole shop of people and no one has their dad in their life. So I think these are the things that have been more impactful, the stereotype and the idea that black men aren’t around.

What’s your favourite thing to do with Makelo?

We wrestle, I rough him up, throw him up and down, spin him. I used to just bite him but I had to stop because he saw it as a joke and started biting people! So I had to stop because he doesn’t realise he’s got a full set of teeth!

We go for random walks. He just started walking about two months ago so, if it’s sunny, we go to the park or play in the communal garden where we live.

Do you enjoy reading books to him?

I actually don’t read books to him but my wife reads to him all the time so he loves books. I have bought him books though. If he sees a book he’ll go and sit down next to the book and start going through it. He loves the colours in books. I don’t let him play on my phone and he doesn’t have an iPad so I guess he just enjoys the visuals in the books.

We’ve limited the viewing of tv so he doesn’t really watch tv. Any time he does it’s with me but, with his mum, he doesn’t watch any tv whatsoever. I’ve created a YouTube playlist of selected cartoons that I use as a distraction when I’m trying to get ready in the morning!

Do you find you’re able to find a lot of diverse characters that represent yourself and him?

The books I’ve solely looked for myself have been books featuring black characters. Even the cartoons I mentioned, they’re all black. Bino and Fino have a cartoon they’ve translated into Swahili so I let him watch that because I think he might pick up the language. There are a few others like that I’ve chosen and it’s not because I’m pro-black in the sense of black only, it’s more so because I want him to grow up thinking black is normal.

I feel like I’m responsible to give him that diversity from home because we live in a country where, subconsciously and naturally, the norm is going to be white. I feel like you don’t grow up with a mix, you just grow up with one side and that’s why we need to make a conscious effort to give our children our culture for that balance. I’m all for mixed cultures.

Fast forward 20-30 years and Makelo is now becoming a father. What’s the key piece of advice you’d give him based on your experiences as a father this first year?

Do not feel sympathetic to yourself about the things you have to go through having a child. It’s tough, it’s hard, but it’s your duty. Be in your child’s life. Spend time with your child. Be more than a figure, be more than a role or an image. Create a relationship and have a friendship with your child. Because this is your child. They didn’t ask to be here so do what you have to do.

Find out more about SliderCuts over at www.slidercuts.com, on Twitter and on Instagram.

Interview by Casey Elisha.

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