The little girl looked like someone had stolen her teddy. Her chin burrowed into her chest, the pink of her bottom lip wobbled, and a tear formed the corner of her eye, Her sister looked on, an expression of bafflement on her older face.
A car door opened and closed, a voice called out, “what’s wrong sweetheart, are you alright?” Her father, his face creased with empathy and concern, tenderly hugged her to his chest as she began to sob.
As I watched the scene unfold outside the local school it struck me just how many fathers were taking their children to school this morning and every day. How many tears daddies were carefully wiping in that moment, how much compassion and love was in the air.
On Mondays, or in fact any other work day, how often do we stop to think of the love and care fathers provide for their families?
How many dads stepped into their work clothes this morning, dreading the day ahead, stomachs churning at the politics to be played, the power games to be won, the cognitive dissonance of once again going to a job they no longer enjoy?
How many will return home this evening minds grinding, and morph seamlessly into Family Dad, before collapsing into bed and doing it all again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. None of this is to say women don’t also have these pressures, many do, the context and challenges are mostly different.
More and more, I find myself in deeply poignant conversations with men about their struggles, how men in their forties and fifties feel trapped and stuck in the lives they’ve created for themselves. Whilst they mostly love their families with a visceral loyalty, sometimes the magic which brought them together with their partners and created their family units, has lost some of its shine and they don’t know how to find it again.
Back in your thirties you men felt collectively more at ease, laying down the foundations for the lives you imagined, drawn by the sparkle of future promise. When you reach your mid-forties, I’ve observed a dawning of realisation that this could be the last big gig and it’s shit or bust because there might only be one career move left. There’s a latent fear of “what if,” you’re not hired at the level to which you had aspired by now. You stutter and question yourselves. “Is this it?”
Unfortunately, it’s typically at the corresponding point we all find ourselves in the deepest, darkest cashflow demands, whether we educate our children in the private or public systems, rent or own, the cost of living in the world’s major cities is crippling. Many of the conversations I hold are with Sydneysiders where we find ourselves particularly hard hit with costs.
But this story is not about affordability, it’s about love, it’s about saying to the daddies of the world, we see you and we hear you.
To the men who are still pursuing the Heroic Path to support the people you love, we women say, we love you.
This is a moment to reach out to you and hug you with gratitude for the person you are and the loyalty you show to us. Yes we will still argue about socks, mess, and who left the toilet seat up, but we see you and we hear you, and together we will find the shine again.
Together, we’ve got this. OK? Please know that.