If you ever needed proof that life is full of surprising twists and turns, you need only look to fitness guru and father of three, Sam Wood, for evidence.
In 2015, he was 34 years old and looking for love on reality TV’s The Bachelor, and now just a handful of years later, he is married to his lady love, Snezana Markoski – and neck-deep in the parenting trenches, being step-father to Snezana’s daughter, Eve, as well as dad to two little girls, Willow and Charlie. Phew!
So exactly how much does Sam love his new life and role as a father to three girls? He shares his experience with host, Sean Szeps in a recent episode of The Dad Kit, the podcast that gets under the hood of what’s really going on in the minds of modern men.
Listen to Sam Wood on The Dad Kit:
If you follow Sam Wood on social media, or have signed up to one of his fitness programs, you’ll already know that he is an all-in kind of guy. He adores his family and is enthusiastic about including them in everything he does. And he’s not shy about articulating all the feelings he has for the good stuff that has come his way in recent years.
And he has his father to thank for much of that.
“I grew up in Tasmania and had a fairly normal upbringing. And then when when I was 13, my mum got cancer and when I was 15, she passed away,” Sam says. “My dad sold his business, didn’t work for three years and became a stay-at-home dad to look after myself, my brother and my sister after my mum passed away … it was a really tough time.”
Sam’s father was the traditional dad. “He was 99 percent tough, one percent sensitivity,” says Sam, but realised pretty quickly that this wasn’t going to work for children who had lost their mother.
“I don’t take for granted for one second how hard it must’ve been for him losing his wife too, but he really, really stepped up. My brother, sister and I are so grateful that he took such good care of us and helped us through such a tough time. He’s far more sensitive now – he absolutely had to change the type of person that he was to fulfil that role,” Sam adds. “I’m sure Mum would be very proud.”
Family life in an instant
Fast forward 20 years and one reality TV show later, and Sam found himself with an instant family of his own when he fell in love with single mother, Snezana Markoski.
Snezana’s nine-year-old daughter, Eve, was, of course, part of the package deal so Sam had to learn quickly how to parent a walking, talking little person, and that came with some challenges.
“I only got to meet Evie when she was nine. Snez wouldn’t mind me saying that as a single mum bringing up a little girl, she hasn’t been that tough on Evie. And I’m a massive believer that we’re not doing her any favours by not being tough on her,” Sam says. “But it’s very, very hard to come into the picture when she’s nine or 10. I absolutely adore her and we’re great friends. We get on fabulously. But at the same time, I’m definitely tougher on her than her mum is.”
But Sam has no evil step-parent intentions.
Sam explains, “I see myself as Evie’s dad, not Evie’s step-dad. And if I don’t say anything, I’m not doing [my job]. It’s all very well to say that, but actions speak louder than words.
“I think it’s really important that [Eve] fends for herself and works her own way out. And so Snez and I are always debating, how hard is too hard and how soft is too soft.”
From little things, big things grow
After finding his feet as a new parent to Eve, everything changed again when first Willow and then Charlie were born. But did these new additions alter the freshly new family dynamic?
“I think it brought the whole family closer together. Snez and I have spoken of it – it was like the missing piece. It just made our family feel [complete]. Particularly because of how we met, this consolidated us as a family unit. I know Evie had always wanted to be a big sister and just seeing her when Willow was born … it was kind of like a fresh beginning as a new family. As the family sort of grows, it just feels more and more like we’ve always been together, and it hasn’t just been a five year period.”
With so much changing so quickly, it would be understandable if Sam felt at times overwhelmed with the shape of his daily life.
But no, he is basically as happy as one human can be: “I always wanted to be a dad … it is absolutely the most important thing that I will ever do. It is the absolute priority in my life, and I can’t imagine what my life would have been if I hadn’t become a dad; what a tragedy it would have been.”