The one word that comes to mind when I think about my mother raising our family is Struggle.
The struggle was real, and the people in our lives were aware that my mother needed help.
The people involved in my life taught me compassion, empathy, and most of all acceptance.
I accepted the struggles of my family, and was taught to respect women and the role of motherhood. Empathy was instilled in me when I heard relatives say, “your poor mom never gets a break” – “Your dad is always at work and that is hard on your mom” – “Be easy on your mother, she does a lot for you kids”. I learned at an early age that the stress of raising children had an effect on my mom’s behavior, and that stress from work had an impact on my father.
My parents fought a lot when I was a child and I was aware of the struggles of raising children.
My father worked a lot during my early childhood and his role was limited to providing for the family. He was a workaholic and we always needed more money. His role as a provider was widely accepted and he fit in very well with his era.
I knew at an early age that taking care of children was hard work. Where was my Dad’s empathy? Why was he yelling at my mom about his his hair brush being out of place? Doesn’t he know that my little brother peed in the dressing room today, and my Mom just got home from cheer-leading practice? Dinner didn’t make itself, and my poor mom hasn’t had a break all day. I can still hear the voices in my head saying “Stick up for your mother”. My mom had people in her corner and their voices had an influence on the admiration and appreciation I have for my mom.
I never understood my parents arguing when I was child, but my father did teach me about compassion. My Dad always brought my mom home flowers on days the tensions of family life got out of control. I knew my dad was sorry for his actions and acknowledging his mistakes seemed to comfort my mom.
I never understood how my parents found a way to love each other after their crazy fights. I just knew my dad brought home flowers and that seemed to work for a while. My dad was a repeat offender and the the arguments ensued throughout my childhood until my parents got divorced. The divorce was all my dads fault in my childhood mind and I just wanted things to get better for my mom.
My perspective of marriage and raising children changed dramatically when I brought my own children into the world.
Being a stay at home dad in the 21st century is nothing like the life I knew growing up. There is no empathy, compassion, or understanding of what it is like to be a stay at home dad. Women got respect in the workforce while stay-at-home-dads have no place in the world. Sometimes I think I would be better off being kidnapped by ISIS. At least the suffering would stop when they chop off my head.
I do not get the respect my mom was afforded. I do not have relatives feeling the need to help me. People do not reach out to me and ask me how I am feeling. Besides, my parents are to busy helping out my sisters. Men are supposed to be strong and it’s absurd to think dads need help raising their children. Watch the kids, cook them food, clean up their mess, but don’t think for one minute that your allowed to have emotions.
Don’t believe me? Try telling your wife that she hurt your feelings. Try suggesting that having a bad day with the children can effect your mood or behavior. Do not be mad at today’s working mom, she was never taught how to have empathy for her father. I do not have relatives telling my children “be nice to your father, he has a lot of stress” You will never hear my parents or in-laws tell my wife “Your poor husband hasn’t had a break all day”.
My son has type 1 diabetes and I cry on days his sugars are out of control. I do not feel comfortable sharing my feelings because it is not allowed or accepted. People may say that a man is allowed to be vulnerable and emotional, but society has not found a way to comfort him. There are several misconceptions and stereotypes that prevent men from being respected for their role of a stay at home dad.
I need comfort but do not get it from my wife because she was not taught the same principles I learned growing up. Compassion for fathers was not instilled in most women. She learned that her father went to work and provided for the family. She watched her father bring home flowers when he was trying to make her mother feel better. She witnessed her grandma and aunts being there for her mom but does not understand why the father of her children needs the same help. Society does not understand the struggles of being a stay at home dad. Did I understand the struggles of my wife being the provider?
I never realized how sad it was to be away from the kids until my wife and I got separated and I went 3 days without seeing my children. I have never cried so much in my life during those 3 days. I had an epiphany and realized the depression my wife endured being away from the children was something I failed to realize. I was familiar with the feelings of my mother growing up, but never put much thought into the feelings of my father. He spent most of his time working and I was not aware of his feelings. I was not aware of my wife’s feelings until it was to late.
My wife and I are going through the process of divorce and I cannot go one day without analyzing where our marriage failed. I spent the past 5 years of my life searching for recognition and trying to deal with the feeling of failure for not being a financial provider. I did a wonderful job of being a stay at home dad but failed to realize women in the workforce still have strong emotions that need attention and comfort. You cannot expect a working mother with young children to have a role limited to being a provider. Women still need the emotional support which is hard to provide if your a dad striving for acceptance. We did not understand the role reversal of modern times in time to save our marriage.
I do not have the same luxury of sharing my feelings because I was taught that emotions from a man are taboo. My wife and I had some of the same struggles I witnessed in my childhood with one exception.
I didn’t buy her flowers.