I wonder, if for just one moment we stopped to listen, what would we hear?
If just once we looked past the crying baby protesting their sleep, or past the nursery rhymes playing on repeat. If for just one moment we look past the hustle and bustle of life and into a family what might we hear? Have you ever looked deep into a family and listened for the silent noise that is hidden away?
A noise that we are ashamed to let sing out, a silent cry we desperately try and hide.
My cry was made weeks after becoming a father and shortly after returning to work. As a father I felt I was expected to carry the family, to provide stability, an income and a safe place to live. I felt the norm was for me to head to work, complete my 8-hour shift and return home to pick up my child and give my wife a break. I thought it was the norm to wake up early mornings to look after my child while I gave my wife asleep in. I thought it was the norm to think that I had it easier than her.
My routine was simple, I worked each day from 3 pm to late and I would get home around midnight, with my son needing a feed between 1 and 2 am. I knew my wife would have been up at 11 to feed my boy, so I felt it was my duty to do the early morning feed. I would often sit up late at night waiting for him to wake, spending the next hour feeding him, burping him and then trying to get him back to sleep, with most nights finding myself sleeping with him in my arms on the recliner. By 6am, we were all up for the day.
I say this not to take away from the excellent job my wife did, I say this not to make claims I had it harder than her. I say this because I began to cry, I began to let out a silent cry I hoped no one could hear.
For so long an internal battle would rage, one that would call my cry weak and one that would condemn my every call for help. I had to prove I was a good father, I had to prove I was capable of doing it on my own. There seems to be a notion that men are weak for seeking help. That you will become isolated and alone if you raise your hand.
According to Australian Men’s Health “43% of first time dads saw anxiety and depression after having a baby as a sign of weakness”. I was one of those 43%, I thought I was weak for needing help.
2 years on a battle still rages, but one I no longer fight alone. One that I will face with a war cry that will not be hidden because I know it’s OK to seek help, to shoulder the burden with others so that we may raise the next generation together.