Hardwired into a man’s genetic code is the need to hunt. We must go out and provide for our family; put food on the table and ensure the needs of our wife and children are met.
“Me, man! Me hunt!”
Or, I suppose there are some who “gather” and therefore prefer the organic vegetable route instead of satisfying the carnivorous desires of red meat… but I digress.
Whether you’re a hunter or a gatherer, as a husband and father you know and understand only one way to provide for your family. Work. W-O-R-K. Earn an honest days wage, put food on the table, and get the bills paid.
For the record, my Wife knows how to work too. She’s one of the hardest working, most dedicated people I know. But, she understands one thing I don’t. Hardwired into a woman’s genetic code is this foreign concept called “nurturing.”
I don’t know, it has something to do with sympathy or empathy… it has nothing to do with the primal urge of tracking buffalo and utilizing everything we can to feed, clothe, and even make spears out of rib bones.
Do you know how hard it is to go against your natural tendencies to do what ultimately is the right thing as a man? As a Husband and Father?
My six-year-old son has had a low grade fever for seven days now. This fever was cause for my wife missing two and a half days of work. I hated that for her, but I was out of town and there wasn’t anything I could do to help anyway.
He was able to go to school on Monday morning, and to our surprise, the fever returned that afternoon and another trip to the doctor ensued (that’s another 500-600 post all in itself). To summarize, we were instructed that he was not to return to school for 24 hours after his fever had broken.
Yeah, right! This is my son we’re talking about. He’ll be bouncing out of bed in the morning ready for school…
…oh, wow, that cough sounds painful. Wow! Dude, you feel hot. Hey, you gotta go to school today. Mom’s gotta go to work.
Yep, you guessed it, fever Tuesday morning. Mom’s nurturing kicked in. The back rubs and cold wash cloth on the forehead. The encouraging words that everything will be fine. All the while Dad is saying, “Hey, man… umm… you have to go to school ’cause it’s real important that you don’t miss. You’ve already got work to make up, and…”
Crap. Okay, so I reach down deep, knowing the right thing to do. “Sweetheart,” I calmly proclaim to my wife, “I’ll stay home with him today.”
My stomach tightens, and my brain begins to lose oxygen as this goes against everything I know to do. My mind wanders to the pile of reporting left on my desk from the day before. And, I have some policies and procedures that need editing. And, not to mention the deadline for that other thing I have.
Dads, you know where I’m coming from. We’ve all been there. If it were an invite to miss work for 18 holes with a buddy, we’re there. When it comes to staying home to take care of a sick child, that’s a totally different animal all together. It’s foreign to us.
There’s always a silver lining though. Not only did we watch “The Empire Strikes Back,” we followed it up with “Return of the Jedi.”
The best thing about the day? I got to hang out with my son. We talked about things that are important to him. We talked about things that are important to me. It was a time to not worry about anything happening in a room flooded with florescent lights that would still be there tomorrow. I was present with my son.
If the truth be told, though I had this internal tug-of-war pulling at my urge to go to work, my loyalty is to my family. I’m really not that bad at nurturing, but don’t tell anyone or you’ll get the wrong end of my handmade buffalo bone spear (I can’t get images of Dances with Wolves out of my head for some reason).
Showing our children that we, as Fathers, care enough to take care of them when they’re ill is critically important to ensuring security. They not only need to be shown an example of hard work and providing for food and shelter, they need to see the model of a man who can love them and provide for their emotional stability as well.
I was reminded of this need when I returned to work Monday night after having taken my son to the doctor. As I was working at my desk, my focus fell to my white shirt sleeve as I noticed an unusual pattern of yellow-green. The snot that had crusted on my pressed shirt was a reminder that my son needed me. That he wanted me close to him and he trusted me to be his protector and his nurturer.