O Father, I wish you were here, in person, or at least as a clearly developed voice in my head. The world is mad and life is so much and I feel so small. There are choices before me that I don’t know how to make and I have no one to ask but my uncertain self.
Unexpectedly we’re buying a house. For the first time in both our lives, we’re taking on the entirety of housing expenses without housemates to offset the cost. I feel pressure to work as much as I can to meet the expense.
My job is such that the only limits to how much I work are the ones I choose to set for myself. When I tell them I want to pick up extra hours and days, they laud and praise me for being so dedicated to caring for my family and grant me my request.
Meanwhile my oldest son says things like, “Daddy, I don’t want you to go to work.” Or, “Daddy, when can you stay home all day?” And, “Daddy, I miss you.”
How do I balance being the primary income earner for my family and being a primary attachment figure for my kids? Most days, seems like there isn’t time for both.
This summer I had plans. I was going to finish up the school year, then take it easy. Work a four-day week. Take the kid out for regular bike rides. Spend at least a good half-day writing.
Finally I was going to be a writer! I was going to finish book one of Deusula, then start the second. I was going to finally get into a regular blogging rhythm. I was going to start researching for this other book idea I had about what happens to sheltered kids when they grow up.
Finally I was going to focus on the projects I’ve been deferring for more than a decade now. I was going to have time.
Now I’m looking at maintaining a six-day work week, and I must do this because, well, responsibilities.
How do I balance what I need to be for my loved ones and who I am as a person? Most days, seems like there isn’t room for both, and I feel my soul crumbling a bit more day by day.
We have this long term idea of moving to another state where the climate offers more warmth and sun. We think it would be good for our mental health. Meanwhile, we’d be leaving our whole lives behind. Also, we have kids who need stability.
How do I know what is best for my family? How do I do it?
O Father Where Art Thou? I need someone to ask my questions, someone to tell me the answers.
The loudest voices in my head are societal standards of hyper masculinity and shame driven religion.
Hyper-masculinity says I should take what I want and shames me for not being strong or capable or smart enough to do so.
Shame-driven religion says work! Sacrifice! Give! You don’t matter anyway!
The balance of these voices always leaves either me or my family stranded.
And my biological dad? I always say I know he loved me; he always worked hard to provide for my family. Lately I’ve come to realize that this is true. He loved us and we never lacked for our needs and some of the things we wanted. But how he did that was work 17-hour days and 6 day weeks and as much overtime as he could for most of my childhood. When he was home, he very openly discouraged me from having feelings. He taught me to laugh, to make friends with anyone, and to work long hours. Everything I learned about intimacy and emotional health I had to cobble together on my own once I grew up.
Why did he work so much? Was he afraid to be at home? To be emotionally present with his family? Was he afraid of the world too? Was he driven by the pressures of this mad mad world? Did he feel desperate to work as much as he could so we could break even? Were our finances actually that tight, or was he driven by gods of materialism?
Today I weep for the father (at least the collective wisdom of a father figure) who I desperately need but feel like I lost long ago. He was stolen away by the rigors of a capitalist, consumerist society and I was left to be raised by religion shame and culture-based hyper-masculinity.
I want better for my sons. I want to break these patterns. I want to be physically present and emotionally attuned and not obsessed with money and work and not making my most important choices based on money and fear. But life is expensive. And the world is mad. The forces and patterns are so big and I feel so small.
Oh Father, my father, where are you now? I wish you were here.
My sons, oh my sons, may I be a better father to thee…