As men we tend to sit in the dark with our problems. We work, take care of our families and do what we can to stay strong mentally and physically. We have a definite role to play. But life can also wear us down. Relentless routines can stress us out as we do what we can to deal with work and home-life.
I have always taken my job as a parent very seriously. I have been the main bread winner whereas it has been my wife’s role as as a stay at home parent to deal with the daily chores at home. We have always had the agreement that she does all the washing and house work so it’s my job to cook each day. It’s an agreement that works for us.
But over the last three years since the accident, things have changed drastically for us. I no longer work full-time which has affected us financially and has also affected me mentally. I had the rug pulled out from under me. No longer able to earn as I once did, I can no longer provide for my family as I had been doing previously.
Going back a few years, when we realised we had triplets coming I began having little nagging fears, such as how would we cope if because of – perhaps due to illness – I could no longer work full-time and take care of us financially. A week off work with a chest infection in the first year of them being born caused us a financial set back and led me to experience how difficult life would be with less earnings coming in each month.
When that fear became a reality I sank into a depression. I got caught up in the dire reality of my situation and felt the frustration from my wife as I struggled to hold up my end of the bargain. I used to write about the importance of a man’s ability to provide for his family, now I was thrown into a position where I could no longer do that.
We had to accept charity in my first month’s of being off work undergoing medical tests. It was a crushing blow to my self esteem. It drove my depression further. I no longer knew myself and had to somehow change my whole perception, outlook and view on life and how I lived it. A diagnosis at a year into my chronic pain condition brought some relief. Being an invisible illness caused some suspicion from friends and family. But that releif did little to help my situation and home-life.
It has been three years and in that time I have settled into part time work that is less physically and mentally stressful. Working within the same company I am grateful to still be in employment. And with help from the government we still have a roof over our heads and food on the table. But my mental health is still a problem with little resolve.
As I write this I am now dealing with two prolapsed discs in my lower spine. I am off work again. The point is that I cannot take anything for granted. Life throws us curve balls and we may not see them coming. It is still our jobs as father’s to provide for our families. If not financially as we would like we can be still be of use.
The most important job as a dad is to provide for our families. No matter what life is throwing at us we can still be mentally strong for our partners/wives and children. It is that strength that is of most importance. My children need stability from me. I see this now more than ever as I deal with physical disabilities. I need only to ask myself this.’Am I practising patience and tolerance around them?’ Am I providing mental stability so that they are growing in a family with love at the centre?’.
And my love, mental and spiritual strength will always be the most important things I can bring to my home. My wife also needs me grounded in these principles for when I am practicing these simple things I am providing things that money cannot buy. We have a roof over our heads and food on the table. We have a home of laughter and joy and my children are growing with confidence. There is nothing more we need.
We are a family that love each other and in the end – that is all that counts.