Father's Day

Its Father’s Day. I’m sitting on my porch drinking a cup of coffee from a mug made by my 9 year old daughter that says “Best Dad.” I find the irony of this amusing and sad. There a quiet truth hidden behind the stoic fathers I know. As a man, you are taught to “man up and stop being a wuss” and know what you’re doing. The outcome of this kind of message is to shut down and become the trope of an emotionally unavailable father who works long hours to pay the bills to provide but mentally, emotionally absent and disconnected.

I find father’s day hard to stomach. It seems like society both indulges, Judges and pigeonholes fathers into a narrow role - the image of “successful” father limited to paying the bills to support a family’s lifestyle and showing up. I was one of those fathers. The truth is deep down I knew that wasn’t enough. Not only was it not enough for my kid, but it’s wasn’t enough for me.

Thanks to my wife, Yoon, it’s only recently that I’ve been able to feel confident in my ability as a father. With her help, I am being supported to fully explore and reconcile what being a father means to me. I now understand that fatherhood is not a role that’s limited to 3 things: 1. make a child, 2. make money to support the child 3. spend quality “daddy time” dictated by the mother of the child. In my last marriage, I was totally mislead into a narrow role that turned me into a emotionally absent work mule.

Taking time to understand what kind of father I want to be and allowing my self to show up and be emotionally present with my daughter was helped by making the space to explore the grief around my own lack of father figure. Most important was having the support of an equal partner, friends and colleagues whom without judgement helped me deepen into the vulnerability of not knowing how to do something and gave me the courage and guidance to keep learning and growing.