- July 29, 2012
If you are a man who has a difficult past or present relationship with your dad – you're in good company. So many men have rocky relationships with their dad's that continue to be a source of frustration, sadness, and disconnect well into adulthood. Men often worry what kind of father they will be able to be, wondering if they will be able to offer their sons and daughters something more than their fathers were able to give them.
I think this poem by Rick Belden captures the mixed feelings men can have about their fathers: the desire to be close, to feel his approval, to be accepted and loved even though their dad may not be fully capable of giving these things.
leg hurting tonight reminds me of how my dad + I used to
run across each other in the dark
when I was little + my leg would hurt.
he had a lot of leg cramps at night
he called that a goddam charley horse
I used to wake up with intense pain in my leg
the leg I broke
trying to catch up with him
when I was first learning to walk.
sometimes we'd both wake up at the same time
on the same night
I liked this because I got to spend some quiet time
alone with him.
I never wanted to go back to bed on those nights
we'd sit in the living room or the kitchen
in the dark or with a dim light on
he seemed more open in those moments
I didn't feel like he hated me then
maybe it was because he was sleepy
or in pain.
those were special occasions for me
nothing to accomplish or be judged on
we each had our own pain
similar but not the same
he was empathetic
I felt connected to him.
in those brief moments
I always felt that I was just like him
just like I always wanted to be.
Excerpted from Iron Man Family Outing: Poems about Transition into a More Conscious Manhood by Rick Belden. Copyright © 1990, 2008 by Rick Belden. All rights reserved.