Dads, leave some love for yourselves too

Sometimes, in an effort to give the best to their families, many fathers put their issues in the back burner. You have probably seen fathers who are walking around in worn-out clothes, while their children and wives are dressed to the nines.

I think that this is an expectation that society has put on us. It is either that, or we saw our fathers doing the same thing, and this has become something inherent. My best friend’s father refused to take him to high school. While we transitioned to high school, he was, against his wishes, incorporated in the family business, which floundered in later years.

When his daughters were selected to some of the best national schools in the country, he did not have the money to pay for their fees. Some of his well-to-do relatives, whom he thought would help, told him to take his daughters to cheaper provincial schools.

“I’ll not do that to my kids,” he told me, “after they have worked so hard … and then I do this to them? I’ll scrimp, save, sacrifice and take SACCO loans so that my kids can realise their dreams. I’ll not do to them what my father did to me.”

Finding a balance

Over the years, I have seen this brother putting his kids first, and making sure that they had every last thing that they needed. Recently, his elder daughter graduated from a local university. The other daughter is graduating in two years’ time.  

Whenever we meet, I have never heard this brother – like some men do – moan about the “burden” of schooling his children. He calls it a blessing. He is so proud of his kids you can see the pride oozing from his pores.   

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But the other thing that he constantly talks about is keeping a balance.

“When you are making sacrifices for your family, don’t ever forget about yourself,” he always advises me. “Don’t wear tatters just so that people can see that you’re giving all to your family. However harsh the economy may be, try to find a balance.”

My friend’s advice gave me a reality check, as it should other brothers who are grinding for their families. It has taught me that I should love my family as I love myself.

Even children can see

Sometimes we do things – like making sacrifices – and we think that our children cannot see what’s happening. Children are perceptive, and they can put two-and-two together.

Not so long ago, we were walking home from church with my daughter when, out of the blues, she asked me why I do not go out with my friends.

“You know, you girls come first,” I told her.

“You should also treat yourself,” she said, “because you always treat us well.”

I think that this was not out of the blues. A little bird tells me that my daughter had been watching me. Our children can see things which we think they cannot see.  

Two years ago, I was stressed due to some issues of life. One evening, I excused myself and went out for a walk. It was my daughter who locked the door when I went out.

“Pudd’ng says that, when you went out you looked extremely distressed,” my wife told me when I returned.

I had tried to keep a happy countenance. But I guess I did a lousy job of it. She saw through the fake smile that I wore.

I know I have written about the anatomy of sacrifice. About the sacrifices we make for our children. But I am also learning that I should make sacrifices for myself. It is not being selfish. Instead, it is being secure.

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