From my heart…
This is not the post I had planned to write. I’m afraid ‘the stuff of life’ got in the way last week and I wasn’t able to deliver on my plans. To mark Father’s Day, I had wanted to write (in greater depth than I have here) about how the male childless voice never seems as loud as that of the female’s. Luckily enough, there have been several excellent blog posts this week that have sought to reverse this phenomenon – see for example https://gateway-women.com/coping-with-fathers-day-as-a-childless-man-a-guest-blog-by-dr-robin-hadley/
And if you’re on twitter see World Childless Hour @ChildlessHour.
It is now well into Father’s Day and because I’d like to publish this before sundown, this post is very much straight out of my head… and heart.
One male voice that is ‘out there’ is Michael Hughes. He and his wife Vickie have a blog here. I asked him for his thoughts on Father’s Day and he said that thoughts and images came to him ‘like a short film’. He very kindly allowed me to share his message and here is an extract of his moving words:
When we first accepted that we couldn’t have children, for me it was easy to handle. I saw these tiny fragile humans that didn’t fit into my rough and tumble rugby playing frame of mind back then – not to mention they would be high maintenance to the extreme. Sadly, as I have aged and my niece, nephew and friends’ children have grown, it is now I realise how much I will be missing out on. My boy won’t be coming around to have a beer with the old man, sharing that symbol of mate-ship with me. I won’t be sitting in the garden full of joy that I have been part of the creation of this fine upstanding man… I won’t see the beaming warm smile as my wife looks at us both knowing I didn’t let her down in guiding her first-born to be a man to be proud of… As I age it reminds me as those around develop a family support network, ours gets smaller and smaller as those before us pass.
It’s good to have voices like Michael’s out there as I do feel that a lot of the focus of the pain of childlessness is linked to notions of ‘motherhood’ and the physicality of the female experience of not being able to conceive or carry a pregnancy full-term. I’m heartened that the male voice may well be starting to be heard and I hope the male experience of childlessness through circumstance can be better understood and acknowledged by society.
Last year I wrote a post Father’s Day that still reflects my thoughts and feelings. For this Father’s Day, I would like to send all men who are childless-not-by-choice a short letter from my heart. I’m not sure if you could classify it as a poem (and it certainly won’t win the Nobel Prize for Poetry!) but this is how it emerged from my mind at 3am this morning and I thought I would share it with you here.
You may feel like the ‘supporter’, the ‘fixer’
The grin-and-bear-the-jokes man,
The carrier of messages of silence:
That you Must Not Cry;
That your pages of sadness should not be turned;
That your voice is stifled by your gender.
I want you to know
Your words will not fall blindly to the floor.
I will not ignore what could have been for you.
Your grief may be the same as mine
Yet different in how its ghosts appear.
It’s all right to let me climb with you,
To let me be the pathfinder when you grow tired,
To carry your stones of loss to the peak.
To build a cairn to remind you, I am here.
However you navigate Father’s Day, whatever hills you have to climb, my thoughts are with you all.