Man Down! A Gay Dad Wants To Wave His White Flag
By Henry Amador
Tired, irritated, angry, distant, envious, tired, overwhelmed, tired, judgmental, did I say tired?
These are some of the ways I have been feeling lately and that really has me feeling, well… tired, irritated, angry, distant, envious, overwhelmed, judgmental and tired, really tired.
I was recently featured in an article on Buzzfeed about how dads balance work and family.
I apparently wrote my contribution under the influence of an alter ego or perhaps a nice Riesling or through a pair of rose colored glasses or a sunny day in Winter, I’m not quite certain, but it made me feel like a fraud.
I wrote about “Manning Down” you know, the opposite of manning up.
Manning down means that you can express your fears, you don’t have to always keep it together. It means that no man is really Super Man and that being scared and vulnerable is okay.
Manning down means that as a work from home dad I am allowed to need help, I am allowed to want to wave the flag at times and yes, dare I say it? even throw it in.
I’ve come to realize that I rarely, truly, allow myself those moments.
One of the examples I gave in the article, that didn’t make it to the final cut was that of the circus clown that spins his plates, he spends all his time giving them a spin, watching for the ones that begin to slow and wobble and then running back and forth to keep it all going.
Sometimes that’s what life feels like right? Although instead of plates I watch for a wobbly child, or husband, or bill or deadline or basket of laundry or all the countless, daily things that require my energy and my attention.
I have also come to realize that the plate that represents me has somehow disappeared, of my own doing of course yet still a sad and interesting realization.
These all got me thinking and searching for some solutions.
I know that the answers are mine and mine alone to find. I know that the pressures that I feel come from a desire to not fail, to be, or at least appear to be, in control and successful.
I have also begun to explore the societal pressures placed on gay dads.
We are a relatively new phenomenon in today’s culture.
I’m not saying that gay men have not been parenting forever, but our visibility and our numbers are on the rise and more and more of mainstream America is getting to know us.
Are we being looked at and judged differently?
Are there a different set of expectations and limitations that are placed on us?
Are many of us learning and living as we go along?
Are we not influenced by studies that say that children need a father AND a mother?
Are there not those just chomping at the bit to say, “see, they can’t do it!”
Are we not often pressured to prove them wrong?
I know, I know, who cares what they say right? Well sometimes I do and sometimes the outside World gets in just enough to f**k with my head and with my heart.
Even if these pressures are self-imposed or valid, paranoid or real, sometimes this gay dad just needs to man down a bit and wave that flag.
He wants to admit fear and and just shut it all out for a moment, just a moment.
As I write this I imagine myself waving it with vigor and resolve and that brings with it some comfort.
I know that I have taken a much needed step towards relief and I urge any other gay dad that feels the urge to raise his along side mine.
I visualize myself rising out of a dusty trench feeling safe and secure and ready to face the enemy, my enemies.
Yet have no fear dear friends, this dad’s fists are tightly clenched and i’ll be damned If i’m tossing anything.