An open letter from Matt Martino.
On this RUOK Day it’s a great time to reach out dad to dad and just see if we are ok. In these days where parenting has become a competitive sport, it’s good to not feel like we always have to score, but to just be part of a team. To realise we are all the same. Stripped back of everything, status, money, culture, country we are all the same, men who used to be boys, dads who used to be sons, novices at our lives. We love our kids. We would do anything for them. So what about us? Healthy dads make healthier kids, right?
When it seems like everyone wants to wear their kids trophies around like their own medals and tell their third person stories of their kids to seem funnier, better more successful, it’s a good day to lose the ego. Just dad to dad. Man to man. Amateur to amateur.
Whether you’re a fumbling first-timer or a veteran of several tours, fathering is hard. Parenting is hard. It takes your sleep, fuels your anxieties, interferes with your relationships, robs your youth and beauty, gives you kilos and takes your hair. And sometimes the toll is much greater.
Because sometimes it’s just really hard. Whatever our own personal cross, and we all have at least 11, most of us are doing the best we can. Sometimes we just need a little reassurance from another brave soldier with us in the trenches to say, “it’s ok”. That we are ok and we are doing ok.
All of us struggle at times. We struggle because fathering and being a man, and a good human and a success and a provider and a partner and… is challenging.
If we can ignore the highlight reels from others lives, stop competing and appreciate our own lives, it takes the pressure off. If we are honest about how we feel and share openly it can make others feel better about their own lot, not smaller.
When we reach out to another with real compassion we actually grow. We actually do better, become better. Feel better.
No doubt, day to day is tough. And no doubt some dads cope better than others. But no one I know or want to know is perfect. It’s not a sign of weakness to not be perfect but it is a sign of strength to be open, honest and compassionate, not just today, always and having each other’s backs everyday.
Today is just a little reminder. A prompt. And leave pass to show your compassionate side. To reach out. To hug.
It’s a good day to strip it back and be humbled dad to dad. Man to man. Friend to friend.
So, dad, men, friends…. If we ask “are you ok?” we want to know “are you ok?” Question mark. We are not mining for gossip, making ourselves feel better by making you feel worse. We are not that complex. It’s a simple question asked from a safe place. If the answer is a convincing “yes”. Slap his back. Punch his arm or hug him. Whatever takes you back to where you are comfortable.
“No”, green light. Your agenda is set. Share. Talk. But mostly listen. And hear. Be there.
It may take a village to raise that kid, sometimes it may just take one dad to save another.
Learn more about RUOK Day here.