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The Silent Tears: Fatherhood Can be Lonely, Too

Last week, I published a podcast about the loneliness of motherhood with Kate Rope, editorial director of Seleni Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to maternal mental health.

This week, I am honored to share a guest blog post by a fellow Hawaii twin parent, Austin Bennett, on the loneliness of fatherhood, movingly titled The Silent Tears. Austin blogs, too: check it out. I’m so delighted to have a male voice in the mommy-blogging world, and I greatly appreciate Austin’s honesty. I’m also pleased to say that at least online, on the Multiples of Hawaii Facebook Page, Austin has gotten a ton of empathy and offers of support from fellow parents.

The main takeaway of his blog post for me is this: Don’t be ashamed. Let down your pride. Ask for help. People are here for you.

Austin is a loving, single stay-at-home father to his twin toddler daughters. He traded a promising career in the government for a far more rewarding career raising his offspring. The sting of his divorce is an undeniable undertone in his blog, which highlights the gritty joys of being a full-time dad in a mommy-dominated society.

Austin Bennett

There is without a doubt a painful hint of isolation that I’ve denied. No way do I get lonely. I have my daughters with me. ALL. THE. TIME. It’s great. There’s no way I get overwhelmed by the nonstop chores, the decision of what to dump into the bottomless pits known as my offspring. Why would I ever ask for help? They are my responsibility. I should be figuring this out. Am I a bad father for wanting to abandon the pile of clean clothes on my couch, the pile of dirty clothes in the laundry basket, the dishes in the sink? Am I a bad father for wanting to poop alone? Am I a bad father for wanting to have an hour all to myself to pursue whatever it is I want to do sans toddlers who don’t listen? Does it make me an even worse father for bottling up those thoughts and emotions? It is what it is right? Do people even understand what I’m going through?

Hello. I’m Austin. I have two daughters: Harue and Sachi. I’ve been a stay-at-home father for over a year. As of this writing, I’m still going through a divorce. My kids live with me. I’ve chosen this life over paying someone to raise my kids while I go to work. This week, the only adult I’ve had a conversation with happened today at our playgroup. My children have napped two out of the seven days.

I’m too proud to admit that it’s hard. People tell me it’s hard all the time. I shrug my shoulders. What good is that going to do? Admitting that something is hard without any follow on action is pointless. When I went through my training to become a Non Commissioned Officer in the military, one of the lessons that was ingrained in me was to not identify a problem unless I’ve prepared a solution. In the military, that works. There are two ways to interpret that: either you figure out a solution to the problem or ignore the problem until it’s looped back and you’ve discovered a solution. In my current situation, I can tell you it’s probably not healthy in the long term. I have no solution to my isolation. So then it manifests in other ways. Frustration. Living vicariously through social media. Depression. Loneliness. Pride. Failure.

The worst thought to ever enter my head is that no one else could or should have to watch my kids. They are my responsibility. I’m not going to be that person who just dumps his kids off to someone to go dick around without a purpose. I’ve been living the lie for so long that I don’t know what I’d do if I had the free time. I’m an amateur photographer by tax form. I guess I’d go take pictures of things, however, that doesn’t defeat the isolation. I’m usually by myself exploring when that happens. I’m not forging a connection, thus the isolation bug prevails. By accepting help, in my mind, I’ve failed.

The only thing I can do is keep on trucking. If not for me, for my daughters. Maybe I should swallow my pride and let someone in. That brings up another topic that’s probably fueling the isolation fire. Shame. I’m ashamed of my unclean house. The crumbs on the floor, the pee stains in the carpet, the unfolded laundry. Still, clearly as a homemaker, I’m winning. Most days I get the basics done. Dishes clean. Towels off the floor. Trash is taken out. Toys in a general area.

In the time it has taken me to write this, I could have been cleaning or cooking or folding laundry. But it’s important for me to get this out and off my chest. It’s important for me to let my shortcomings resonate. I want to get comfortable admitting this is hard shit. I need to get comfortable letting my pride down so the cavalry of help can come in.

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