“Rub Some Dirt On It”
If we all had a nickel for any time a dad said one of those sayings, we, and future generations, would be rich for a long, long time.
10 years ago last month, I became a dad for the first time. It’s an emotional time and you’re filled with a new love and excitement that is impossible to put into words, but in the coming days, you’ll start to worry about the responsibilities that come with being a father.
How do you keep them safe?
How do you pay for everything they need?
How do you balance work and being a dad?
All those emotions, worries, anxiety build up, but there’s no excuses, right? We’ll be fine, right?
As I walk through my mental health journey and have become more and more outspoken about it, it’s hit me even further about the stigma surrounding males and their mental health. We’re supposed to be tough, we’re supposed to just get over things, but how do we rub dirt on depression? How do we just shake off our anxiety?
It took me hitting absolute rock bottom and sitting on a cold garage floor with a rope to realize I needed to truly seek help. I was less than 10 minutes away from no longer being a dad.
I nearly threw away the opportunity to ever watch my daughter dance in a recital. I nearly threw away the opportunity to watch my son win an art contest. I nearly threw away the opportunity to have a catch with my kids. Why? Because for so long, I kept telling myself I was making excuses for the way I felt inside. I wasn’t being tough enough.
But you know the funny thing I’ve learned over this journey? Being tough isn’t about shaking things off or rubbing dirt on it. It’s about showing true vulnerability. It’s about sharing your real, raw emotions and feelings.
I’ve been blessed to be a dad for 10 years to three amazing kids. I’ve seen trophies won, awards handed out, accomplishments completed, but one of the greatest moments of pride came in the past two months when my 10-year-old son felt comfortable enough to talk to my wife and I about his true emotions and feelings.
It took me over 30 years to realize how to deal with some of the emotions he was now opening up about at the age of 10.
My hope is that those types of conversations become even more common in our society. That fathers all over the world ask how their children are doing and sit back and intently listen to the real answers, as hard as it may be to hear at times.
So this weekend, I encourage all fathers to sit down and listen to their kids. Listen to their real emotions and don’t be afraid to share yours too, you never know how much it’ll help not only your own child, but more importantly, yourself.