The 300th post on my blog!
I am greedy, more greedy, all the more greedy to write more and more and more…..
Don’t wish me luck, please wish me time!
We’ve seen enough of mommy juggling cartoons. Dear dads, take a deep breathe, you all aren’t any less jugglers! And if there has ever been a guilt trip tugging at your heart, this is the place to unleash the burden. Take a moment’s time to quickly recognize what has been bothering your fatherhood experience; feel acknowledged and when you close this page, feel light that you are after all a great dad at heart.
I must have been around eight years old then. It was my birthday and there was a small celebration at home with a few neighbours. It was all done and the day was almost coming to an end. Yet, my dad wasn’t back home yet. When he was back, close to midnight, I was angry. That was what I remember about me that night. My dad gave a smile loaded with guilt. That was what I remember about him that night. Why, it was his daughter’s birthday and he needs to be back home early, isn’t it?! Yeah, I had all the reasons to feel upset about it because I was too young to understand that Annanagar and Urapakkam were 35km apart; to understand that my dad had to drive by himself a total of 70km everyday; to understand that he did this so that his daughters can stay comfortable near to their school.
Perhaps, I was too young to understand! However, my dad was old enough then to feel guilty about not being able to be with his daughter for the celebration. And there are several dads around the world who toil hard for the sake of their children’s well-being, yet a profound guilt of not being there overpowers their efforts and sacrifices.
So, what can make dads guilty?
#1 I am not spending enough time with my kids
You reach home back from office to find your kids already sound asleep. At first, you feel relieved that you can get some lone time in peace. But, when you have a second look at their sleeping faces, you realize that you have missed a day of their school stories; you have missed some sweet little conversations and you have missed a few precious hugs and kisses. Yes, we all run, run and run with our everyday schedules – boss, assignments deadlines, presentations. At the end of the day, the realization that all of these took away your priorities an edge over spending time with your kids, can leave you with a feeling of bad conscience. And its not too uncommon for fathers! Sometimes, when the dad returns back from a business trip, our little boy would ask him, “Why did you leave me and go, Pa?” No matter how dads try to justify the situation, a silent guilt is sure to weigh them down in such moments.
#2 I don’t know everything about my kids
My mom knows where Sushma lives, when she would complete her PhD and what her daughter’s name is inspite of the fact that she has never met Sushma, while my dad has no clue about who Sushma is. By the way, Sushma is my friend 😉 I am confident that the dad at our home cannot give a medicine if our boy is down with fever without consulting anybody. Which medicine, how much volume, how many doses – I doubt if he can answer all of these. Perhaps, point #1 can indirectly effect a father’s involvement with the children sometimes. And sometimes, it can get to the point to make the father feel guilty. Your child and the mother are having a conversation about a classmate whom you have no clue about, you visit the doctor and you stumble to answer when the last time your child had a vaccination, you feel dumb when asked what your kid’s dress size is at a garment store – it all does prick you down with guilt. It’s not about the larger details like how old your child is or which class he is studying, it’s really about the smallest, the silliest or perhaps, the most trivial information about your little ones because missing to catch up with the every day life of kids, doesn’t feel anything alright.
#3 I am not able to give enough to my children
There was a phase in life when our family went financially down for a few years. Unfortunately, that was when my sister and I were doing our college studies and being away from home in hostels meant additional weight on my dad’s pocket. Following a holiday, I was leaving back to hostel that day. My dad handed me Rs. 50, Rs. 35 of which was for the bus travel and the remaining Rs. 15 was to be my pocket money for the next one month. There was anger on my face, this time not because I was young to understand but I was not matured and experienced enough to understand a parent’s emotions. Today, when I recollect back that incident, I can feel the guilt my dad was going through then. It wasn’t that he did not want me to have money. He did not have money to give me. And not having enough to give your child enough is a feeling of guilt plus shame plus sadness. Such instances might not be common in upper middle class and high class families. However, with below average earning families, fathers go through this crushing emotion every other day. The disappointment that you see on your son’s face after having deprived of that most-wanted toy from the toy shop is in reality a hundred times of the disappointment that your son felt in those few minutes.
With what I have observed, this feeling of fatherhood guilt is twice in modern dads as much as it was a few decades ago. The role of fathers today is certainly not passive as it used to be. Dads are more involved in their kids’ lives today and as a matter of fact, #2 and #3 are gradually disappearing over time.
Sometimes, there could be that constant bothering within you which hardly you get to realize what exactly it is. If, as a father you have felt this way before and if you could relate that feeling to any of these three points above, know that your fatherhood is alive for the very fact that you think, you love and you care for your beloved littles.
Be there a feeling of guilt you’ve experienced or heard of or think about, please share your thoughts below. You shall be doing a little favour for fathers by being a part of adorning their silent emotions.
This is the sixth post of the series, The Secret Emotions of Fatherhood. The series shall continue to explore the emotions of dads until the end of June.