There’s no doubt about the fact that motherhood is an incredibly taxing experience. The level of “taxation” depends greatly on the mother and her wiring for the job. And there are other factors, like whether or not she was/continues to be a career woman, whether or not she always wanted to be a mother, and whether or not she has a solid support system around her. (Yes, I KNOW I’m completely oversimplifying this and leaving out a host of other elements – especially those related to medical/hormone issues, etc. But, it’s my blog…so please play along, will you?) The bottom line is that NOTHING really prepares you for motherhood.
What often gets lost in the parenthood discussion, though, is how difficult parenthood is on “the other half” – the dads. (Yes, I KNOW that I’m making a broad generalization about the “traditional” family unit. But, it’s my… Well, you know the rest. Just let me make my point. Rip on me later, if you must.)
Fatherhood is undeniably challenging, as well, as we have a whole set of extra pressures that we usually put on ourselves. Whether or not we are the sole breadwinner of the family, along comes baby also means along comes a deeply entrenched burden to provide. It doesn’t matter if we are doing an absolutely fine job of providing before the kid comes along. It doesn’t matter if there’s plenty of money – the kid means that we want more.
Additionally, in our Mars/Venus way, we are fixers. We want to fix everything. If our partner, the baby, or even the dog is unhappy – we want to fix it. What can we do? Do you need me to skip (whatever activity we might have had planned) so you can go do your thing? No problem. Let us fix that. I know that isn’t the intention of the situation, but if it fixes it – no problem. We’ll sacrifice anything to fix something – even ourselves (whether or not the situation calls for it).
And while women are wonderfully capable of talking to their friends or even total strangers about their problems (see the new-social-networking-mom-website-a-day phenomenon – and THIS VERY SITE!), men tend to stay away from seeking help. Especially if it’s help for what might appear to be weakness. As a result, we often just suck it up. And, by all means, we’ll work to make any difficult situation better. Just don’t do anything to make it worse. (The irony, of course, is that by making some situations “worse,” we could fix them in the long run, but we’re unable to see the proverbial forest for the trees.”)
Obviously, this can lead to bigger problems.
I look at this site and I wonder where all the dads are. I look around the Web and I wonder, where’s the great content for the dads? And, when I find the content for the dads, I usually think it sucks (which is, admittedly, partly my competitive nature). There you have it: As men, we really don’t want to be told how to fix something – we just want to go find a way to do it. Thanks for your help, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to follow someone else’s directions. I can find my way. I’m not suggesting that it’s right, but just that it is. The cliché of man (dad) not wanting to pull over when he’s lost is there for a reason, right?
I set out to create content that dads might like. I think I write in a way that dads might relate. My book isn’t about what to do – it’s just more about what it is. I don’t always write about my personal experiences because, as a dad, I want to believe that my experiences are different/better than yours, anyway. And moms end up reading most of it. But the truth is that we’re in the exact same boat as the moms. The bottom line is that NOTHING really prepares you for fatherhood.
We struggle with it, too. We love being dads just like the moms love being moms. We may be great at it, but it can be a tremendous struggle. It can sometimes be an impossible struggle. Then we (dads) go and f**k it all even more by adding invisible pressures on ourselves.
Must. Make. More. Money.
Must. Fix. Crying.
Must. Must. Must.
For the most part – it’s just how we’re built.
Man. Sometimes, it can be really, really tough.