At forty-nine and becoming a dad, my male bravado disappeared in a flurry of nappies, bows, and pretty dresses. I’ve never felt so vulnerable and unsure, more scared about the measles, scuffed knees and snot noses with the possibility of not being able to protect against broken bones and hearts!
In between the 213 pages of my first book is a plethora of stories, podcasts and memories penned by myself about my journey into parenthood. Confronted with clarity through crises and being diagnosed with Bilateral Pulmonary Embolism, my focus was drawn acutely onto what really matters versus the stories I’d been telling myself for years about what I thought mattered, was the gift. Charlie!
It was never a conscious decision to embark on a journey being a public speaker, blogger and advocate for equality and change- I was happy to remain a stand- up comedian (I think Charlie still thinks I am one!).
Coming from a colourful past and never professing to having all the answers and thankfully not being burdened by the pressures and the curse of expectation it has freed me and Charlie to grow and learn together. I want Charlie to see me fail and to see me recover, it shows her how to be resourceful and resilient. I’m constantly and genuinely asking Charlie for help, input and opinions, she grows ten feet tall when I tell her we’re a team! This kid loves to feel as though she’s contributing to everything around the house. She doesn’t need a hero who’s infallible, invincible or stoic.
I need to resist the urge to rescue, to remove obstacles, to pick her up when she gets knocked down, she needs to build the mindset that failing and recovering is the natural order of things and the only way to true growth, over and over again, so she believes she can do it herself.
Thankfully the socially acceptable nuclear family has been challenged with families taking on a myriad of forms and fathers coming in all forms and shapes: biological, foster, adoptive, same-sex, step, transgender, married, cohabiting, separated, divorced, and widowed. Male role models are also come in many forms; brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male friends – having a ‘good dad’ in any of the above forms has a powerful and positive effect on children’s lives and should be fostered and encouraged.
There has been a positive move towards recognising fathers as an integral part of the family unit as both a provider and a willing and eager parent. My mantra is if we Enable, Encourage and Expect men to be held equally responsible for raising the next generation, this will create the space and opportunity for women in the workplace and provide our children with the many unique and important benefits that an involved and present father provides.
I have enjoyed sharing my journey and always encourage dialogue with regards to genuinely abolishing the outdated gender norms and relegating them to the rubbish bin of history.
My book is available on all of the major online book retailers in kindle and softcover or from www.michaelray.com.au