Wednesday, 13 March 2013

In Praise Of The Men.

This week a guy called Mick emailed me saying he saw my photo in the newspaper ... and was I the Eden Barrie he took to his Year 12 formal?

I was. Barrie was my maiden name and I couldn't wait to get rid of it, because I needed a fresh start but mostly because my real father was so pissed off I was a girl that when I was born he disappeared to the pub for two days and didn't even visit.

Mick and I emailed a little bit. I apologised profusely for ditching him at his formal. I was drunk and chasing some other boy. He told me not to worry about it, then he reminded me of all the times we used to sit in Camden oval on Thursdays before Antioch and eat hot chips together.

"Eden, as a dad now it breaks my heart to think of how badly you must have been struggling inside back then. It makes me almost cry to think about it, as all I can see is a little girl hurting and me as a dad wishing he could go back and do something. I am so sorry that you were left fending for yourself."

I read those words and had to sit down. Rocco came in from making a lemonade stand outside and asked me what was wrong, over and over.

I remember sitting there with Mick, all those years ago before I completely soiled myself in a decade-long bender, and we were reading the newspaper together. There was an article about how many people had committed suicide in 1988 (the previous year.) It took ages for me to work up the guts to say out loud:

"My stepdad was one of those people."

It was so hard for me to acknowledge. Nobody ever talked about shit back then. He was my stepdad for eleven years and when he died he seemed to drag all of us down .... it's not mums fault I was left fending for myself. So was she. She was left with four children from two dead men and had to go back to work for the first time in twenty years. It was awful, wicked, and unspoken.

Mick ended up having three children, who he clearly loves with a fierceness and protection that is so beautiful. I love seeing guys with their kids. Men are capable of wanting to be there, to nurture and love?

I'm raising a few men of my own. I want them to be the kinds of guys who would put a drunk girl in a cab and pay the driver to take her home. I want them to know how fierce and strong women are, as they themselves are. I want them to be capable of loving others, especially their own family if they choose to have one. I look at the culture and consciousness they are growing up in and I worry. My eleven-year old said the word "porn" the other day and it shocked me, the way it rolled off his tongue like any other word.

I asked him does he know what porn is. Of course he does.

"But I haven't seen any of it mum I SWEAR."

I told him that he's going to see porn, in his life. And that it was like the World Wide Wrestling Championships ... kind of all for show, a spectacle, and actually pretty fake.

"Real people have real sex, mate. It's pretty awesome, and it's meant to be awesome. I hope you learn to know that."

I'm trying so hard to raise all my kids right, to make them think, to ask us anything, and to know right from wrong. My first two dads failed my family in spectacular ways. It doesn't mean all men do. My husband Dave, and my old friend Mick ... random dads I see at the park pushing their daughters on the swings. All of them out there, actually doing the right thing.

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