I was just wandering around the stay at home dad world (oddly enough, from work) when I came accross something on daddyshome.org that made me really think. In their mission statement, the website says “the measure of a man is in the size of his heart, not his paycheck.”
I almost teared up when I read it. This is something I believe with my whole heart. It is something that should be obvious to every father on the planet. Yet, for some reason we are usually so far from this truth in our paradigms that it seems we believe the opposite. I include myself in this category. I say that I believe it, and yet becoming a stay at home dad is challenging every fiber of my being.
I will be the one to hold my newborn child. I will be her comfort and bring joy to her world during the daylight hours. We will grocery shop together, and cook family meals. We will nap together, and learn Mandarin with Kai Lan. Certainly my wife will do these things as well, but I get the honor of being her primary care giver. So why am I upset?
I reject most of what I saw and learned from my father and stepfathers. My loving father worked up to 20 hours a day to provide, work that sent him to an early grave. My first stepfather did the unthinkable before ending up in jail. My third “father” was consumed by power tools and pickup trucks, with nothing resembling a human heart to be seen. He confused my sensitivity and compassion as feminine, a fault he frequently ridiculed me for. My mother’s fourth husband is a good and caring man, even with all his idiosyncrasies. However, I was well into adulthood before he entered my life.
Deep within my psyche is this expectation of myself. I will be strong and stoic. I will weather every storm to be the protecter, defender, and provider for my clan. My worth is in my capacity to do these things.
When my biological father died, my Chinese family charged me to be “the man of the house.” My six year old childhood was cremated and spread across the oceans along with my father’s ashes. I was a man. Yet, I cannot blame my family, or my ancestors for such a terrible misrepresentation of reality. Deep within my genetic code, and within my sexual identity, lie the drive to be that mythical guardian, that superhero who sacrifices all for the good of the people.
No matter how I reject this belief intellectually, it is the lens through which I see myself. So, giving up my income and role as a provider for the joy of being there to actually provide what my child needs most should not be a struggle for me. No matter how hard I meditate on it I am confronted by an innate belief that I am what my paycheck represents.
I hope that holding my beloved for the first time will illuminate my soul and cast out the darkness that is my false perception of my identity and role in life. My life verse is “do everything in love.” I am a being that has been created to love, to be loved by God and to extravagently love others. I fall so far short of that goal, but at least I can see it somewhere off in the distance, beyond the fog and trees before me.
Tags: father, identity, love, paycheck, provider, sahd