The Perfect Gift for a Man – Stories told from the Heart is an initiative to raise awareness around men’s mental health – following on from the recent #Manweek postings from various bloggers around Sydney. Below is my submission for the collaborative book ‘The Perfect Gift for a Man’
Fatherhood – the joys and challenges of being a man, father and husband
Today I am a husband and father to three primary school-aged daughters and have been happily married for 15 years. I had a fantastic childhood growing up in Sydney’s eastern beaches in the 1970’s. There are so many great memories. When dad walked down the stairs of my grandparent’s house with a brand new Morey Boogie Board, I was thrilled. I no longer had to ride one of those uncool blowup surfmats! Every year we would join our family friends for “cracker night” letting off firecrackers and playing games all night. I never wanted those days to end.
The 1980’s were my ‘formative’ years, completing high-school and university. The school years were so much fun – I was the ‘class clown’, always able to get a laugh from my classmates. Very cheeky, I never did anything seriously wrong but was often distracted from my studies. I realised I just enjoyed sharing and communicating with people, was often bored with the formalised class structure and preferred a more creative approach to learning.
During the 1990’s I travelled the world, fell in love and got married. My career in the information and data industry blossomed – you can imagine my excitement at discovering the power of the Internet. I revelled in the ability to discover and disseminate information so quickly and being able to help people do the same.
So far, my life seemed completely free! I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to. I guess you could say I had managed to avoid responsibility. Life was a big adventure and I was enjoying every moment.
In the 2000’s our children were growing up from toddlers to school-starters, and the responsibility of being a man, husband and father began to dawn on me. We had to build a home for our family, I had to get more serious about my career and the cost of living just kept increasing. It made me realise what my own parents went through to raise me – they worked so hard and gave up so much so that we could receive a good education and happy childhood. Today, I do not find it easy to carry the burden of this responsibility for my own family. I can feel the pressures of life building on me. It can even be frightening.
Fortunately, I have the most amazing community around me. My dear, hard-working wife, who inspires me; my children, who amaze me with their growth, optimism and speed of learning; my family, who provide love and support; my friends and professional network, who provide love, support, mentoring and inspiration. This community gives me reason to live, to give and press on.
Life can be enormously challenging for us all! The way I deal with the challenges is to surround myself with my community, draw from their love and support and press on. I am reminded of the Simon & Garfunkel song “I am a Rock” – for this teaches me how I should NOT be living my life. It says “a rock feels no pain” and “an island never cries” – without those emotions I don’t believe we can live a full and happy life.