posted on May 28, 2008 at 9:29 pm

being a father is a tough gig
i know some of you are about to be
or have recently become one…

being a man has its rewards
we dont need to go into all that here
eventually if you keep havin’ sex
you’ll probably end up being someones father
this gig comes with no duty statement
this gig is mostly improvisation from day one
the only father i can compare myself with truly is my own
in many ways my father was a superior father to most
he never drank or took drugs or got out of it, for one
he never beat the kids or his wife
he never complained or sat around analyzing the whole thing
(a la moi)
he was warm and gentle and pretty cheerful
he worked very hard to give his crew a good stand-dad of living
he wasnt a hands on type dad in many ways
he didnt change diapers or give kids baths
he didnt get you dressed or make you breakfast
he didnt read your school report and do anything
he was kinda detached i guess in some ways
why do men get detached?
its sad but true that many men
get kinda driven from their own homes by their families
heres some stuff about men i have observed
most of us dont like n eventually cant tolerate
a load of kids screaming and playing and hopping about
i know i cant
i know my dad couldnt
and most blokes i know cant either
mothers seem less irked or agitated by their offsprings racket
than the fathers
how often do you hear about someones dad
who has a “shed” where he likes to hang out?
everyone has a little laugh
oh men and their sheds…
you think men like to hang around in sheds
like as if there were empty houses n empty sheds
we would gravitate towards the sheds?
the guys are in the sheds or garages or dens
because the family have driven them there
its where its quiet
its where they can relax
away from the incessant carryings on of the kids
thats right
the kids racket can grind you down
that lovely baby you hold in your arms
will one day be runnin’ about
falling on your head
kicking you in the balls
jumping on the furniture
and demanding all kinds of things
how many many hours have i sat in a park
watching kids running around
pushing swings and kissing hurt elbows and knees
how many diapers (nappies!) have i changed
how many nights up n down with kids
how many times has my heart been in my throat
when my kids have been sick or in danger
how many times standing in a baby pool with em
how many times dropping off n picking up from school
yeah thats right
even hugely massive rockstars like me
doing all this drab stuff
for the kids
for the family
doing all this stuff youre expected to do
by society
by the mothers
by the children
out of duty and love
out of honour
a man must try and do his best
now i have not been a good father
i have not been ideal
i have been neglectful
i have been intoxicated
i have been absent
i have been selfish
i have been angry
i have constantly put myself before the children
did what i wanted or thought i needed to do
in this way my father was superior
he tended to sublimate his own needs for those of his family
although he never did many playgrounds
i guess my mother n father had unofficially delineated their gigs
she did the hands on stuff
he provided the resources and was the rock
although my mother sometimes ran the show too
these days its all mixed up
mummies bring home the bread
and daddies talk pram technology at kindy
whats wright or wrong?
how the hell would i know?
people say oh steven youre a good father
oh yeah! you should see me in full flight
swearing and cursing and using silly words
acting like my own dad did when we got him riled
you know all that
i wont have that bee-havior not in this bloody house !!!
anyway i never thought i’d be doing all that
but i do
and whatsmore i enjoy it
i realize now its a strange way to get close to that long dead dad
to imitate him
roll his words round on my lips
as i chastise these little female versions of myself
albeit much sweeter nicer than i ever was
everything goes full circle
this is natures way of provoking thought
the child is father to the man
archetypal paths we follow
my relationship at the moment with 16 year olds not good
we dont seem close at all
they seem ultra-detached from me
they seem angry and deliberately distant
i confront my many defects esp. during their childhood
and i am astounded
i mean as father i was pretty useless in many ways
i was not dependable at all
not in small ways or the big picture
they have reasons to be angry
yes thats true
they dont seem to want to talk about it either
i mean
im not real anxious to
i would tho’ if it’d help
but they dont seem to want much of anything from me
i did some checking round with other fathers of teenagers
one guy says his kid didnt talk to him for a couple of years
before coming “good”:
“i thought he hated me
he dissed me in front of his friends
he took money but wouldnt converse
then suddenly at age 19 we are best mates again
stick it out it’ll pass”
some women tell me they went through anti-father phases
in their teens
and anti-mother too
but the mothers always seem to have this other connection
maybe cos they actually carried n bore the kids
the mothers often become mediators
between grumpy oldstyle dads
and rebellious nu-style children
the mother is somehow more in the picture
she loves n understands the kids at an organic n cellular level
not so easily can she say
go and never darken my doorstep again!
fathers are more easily spooked by their kids
fathers have more trouble forgiving and forgetting
funny thing
i never met one guy who wanted to be a father
before he actually was
men dont sit around dreaming about being fathers
they answer no biological clock neither
they become fathers when the mothers decide it
and they then find out what theyre made of
most of us fall short
its a very hard n in some ways unrewarding gig
no turning back
it will also bring you joy and pleasure
there are many variables
itll be different for everyone
some more pain than joy
even differing from child to child
one kid might be your ray of sunshine
the other a dark cloud you labour under
what can you do?
persist
n
maybe start thinking about that shed
big daddy out
twillies fly home tomorrow

32 Responses to “farther hood”

  1. avatar
    the dean | 28 May 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    our fathers are the standard with which we judge our behavior.
    I’m fortunate that my old man’s a gem.

    I’m a shed dweller, a latter day troglodyte and not by choice. A friend of mine who lives alone has a vintage motorcycle collection in his lounge room, now that’s living the dream.

  2. avatar
    the dean | 28 May 2008 at 11:34 pm #

    …except the alone bit.

  3. avatar
    Richard | 28 May 2008 at 11:55 pm #

    I’m a few years away from having to see either of my kids off indefinitely.

    I remember though the day I left Brisbane and flew to Darwin. The last thing I heard as I went through the passenger gate was my dad calling out ‘Bye Dick’. His voice was breaking up with emotion. Although dad and I were always pretty close, I hadn’t a clue until that moment of how much it meant to him that I was going.

    Make sure the twillies know.

  4. avatar
    Azza | 28 May 2008 at 11:57 pm #

    Your sounding a bit down killer. Maybe the twillies imminent departure has brought on this mood of introspection. The visit, perhaps, didnt go as you had hoped. Don’t forget that teenagers have all sorts of things going on in their heads and bodies. I think at that age its not about you its them trying to sort themselves out and work out were they fit in the world.
    Listen to me. haha. I’m certainly not talking from personal experience just interested observation. Got no kids yet, turning 38 this year and my wife is mentioning it more and more often. I want kids but Im frankly scarred about such a big difference in our lives! Time is running out!

    Have a good last couple of days with them mate ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. avatar
    Polydora | 28 May 2008 at 11:59 pm #

    I think I may be more of a father type than mother. That, or it’s just an effect of being a single mom.

    Or maybe every mother is the face of Kali. But aren’t we all? Detached/attached… Creator/Destroyer…
    and so on…?

    Father’s day is a-comin’.
    My father could drown out my brothers and I, which always pissed my mother off to no end. She was always the one who would get all bent out of shape from the racket.

    There’s always some balance, though, it seems. One good cop; one bad cop. I guess.

  6. avatar
    kat | 29 May 2008 at 12:37 am #

    what kind of shed, sk? ;]

  7. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 29 May 2008 at 12:52 am #

    I had a great father and he really cherished being a husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and dog guardian.

    Conversely, I never did nor will want to be a father. I’m too selfish, intemperate and irritable to be one. Additionally, this fallen, violent world is not a very hospitable place for an innocent baby to enter. As a decadent monk I must concede that I have profound respect for all the vigilant and loving fathers and mothers of the world. They inspire!

  8. avatar
    veleska1970 | 29 May 2008 at 2:07 am #

    “its a very hard n in some ways unrewarding gig
    no turning back
    it will also bring you joy and pleasure”
    that’s true for moms, too. even with all its hardships, parenthood is wonderful. sometimes it can be rewarding and sometimes you want to scream.

    i’m sorry you’re daughters are being typical teenagers. if it’s any consolation, when i was a teenaged girl, i more or less disowned my father, too~~didn’t want anything to do with him. however, i secretly DID want my dad around. but i was fiercely trying to establish my independence, and i saw my parents as a hindrance to that. and they weren’t, i know that now. it’s a phase that does pass, believe me. your girls love you very much; they’re just going through this necessary stage of their lives. unfortunately you’re the one being hurt by it. and don’t beat yourself up by what kind of father you have been or haven’t been~~they would be going through this phase regardless of what you did or didn’t do anyway.

    a safe flight home to the twillies.

    lotza love….

  9. avatar
    princey | 29 May 2008 at 2:18 am #

    You’re right about the shed and fathers, we have a “garage-turned-studio” out the back where the male of this family tends to go when he needs creative space, that way I get my space too though, (but with the central heating heehee!)

    It’s going to be hard day for you tomorrow sk, seeing your girls fly back, I hope you’ll be ok.

    Take care and lots of love,
    Amanda

  10. avatar
    Queen Hatshepsut | 29 May 2008 at 2:53 am #

    Although perfectly thrilled with being a woman, I often think I am really more of a man inside, haha. I’ve never had the burning desire to have children and I can’t take the racket a bunch of playing/screaming children make. I’d be in my shed too. Perhaps I am too selfish but I will stick to raising animals, haha.

    Oddly though my job has kept me around pre-teens all year and I love ’em to pieces even though they drive me insane. I’m no expert but it truly does sound like your daughters are going through a very normal, natural teenage phase. I’m sorry you’re feeling a bit down and they seem detached. I feel certain in time they will come to know what a true gem you’ve been as a dad, flaws and all.

    My father was not even near perfect – he was ill, he was an alcoholic, he was of really bad temper, he was hooked on Rx drugs, he took his own life – but he also had many, many wonderful qualities and I love him and miss him all the time. Love is messy and we adore parents even with all their failings.

    After taking my students to visit the new junior high/middle school they’ll be attending in September today, I called to thank my mother for everything she did for me – the banal things like buying me P.E. clothes, and getting me to school and putting up with my moods. I can think of no harder job than being a parent; but I imagine, there is always no more rewarding job.

    This too shall pass, yes? I do hope the twillies have safe travels home.
    love,
    denise
    xxoo

  11. avatar
    snowfaller | 29 May 2008 at 3:16 am #

    killer – i know tomorrow will be tough for you but just think about how great it was for them to spend so much time in oz this year. even if they don’t show it, they have to know how great a father you are to them.

    love as always…

  12. avatar
    chrome3d | 29 May 2008 at 3:19 am #

    This stuff was so true. Iยดm writing this from my “shed”.

  13. avatar
    craig1.618 | 29 May 2008 at 4:52 am #

    We are what we think
    All that we are arises with our thoughts.
    With our thoughts we make the world.
    Speak or act with a pure mind
    And happiness will follow you
    As your shadow, unshakeable.

    How can a troubled mind understand the way?
    Your worst enemy cannot harm you
    as much as your own thoughts unguarded.

    But once mastered,
    No one can help you as much,
    Not even your father or your mother.

    -Buddha

    *although i don’t think buddha had any teenage daughters*

  14. avatar
    Paul Lightfoot | 29 May 2008 at 4:57 am #

    You met Zoe (my 16 year old daughter) when you were here SK, and I guess I’m lucky in that she doesn’t cause me any grief, apart from her wants for expensive designer clothing EG: Karen Walker. But I haven’t experienced any issues like you’re experiencing (yet anyway) But I’m pretty damn sure the Twillies will get over whatever it is that bugs them.

    Paul L

  15. avatar
    Lebrinho | 29 May 2008 at 7:47 am #

    Arthur “Two sheds” Jackson:

    “Look. This shed business — it doesn’t really matter. The sheds aren’t important. A few friends call me Two Sheds and that’s all there is to it. I wish you’d ask me about the music. Everybody talks about the sheds. They’ve got it out of proportion — I’m a composer. I’m going to get rid of the shed. I’m fed up with it!

    Host: Then you’ll be Arthur ‘No Sheds’ Jackson, eh?

    Jackson: Look, forget about the sheds. They don’t matter”.

  16. avatar
    calling down baal and zeus | 29 May 2008 at 7:54 am #

    isnt it funny though that the sheds are always so close to the house

  17. avatar
    linjo | 29 May 2008 at 8:23 am #

    Thinking of you Steve. Missing my own biggin who is only 2 hours away at Uni, so can only guess your emotions. Hope all the girls out there understand the ‘shed’ mentality. I was indocrinated by my father that men need to have men time or time alone, its a primeval thang! Linda X

  18. avatar
    CAPTAIN BEYOND | 29 May 2008 at 8:31 am #

    that was sad esskay, I feel for you big daddy, please remind me again, how long have you been off the gear 4?
    Jonny

  19. avatar
    chris | 29 May 2008 at 9:27 am #

    A great blog steve, a lot of id from me on that,quite cathartic ,cheers,chris in stevenage uk

  20. avatar
    eek | 29 May 2008 at 9:38 am #

    mothers seem less irked or agitated by their offsprings racket
    than the fathers

    So true! When my mum said no, she meant it, no matter how long and loud I screamed and cried (and I had an incredible ability to scream for hours on end), but my dad could only tolerate small amounts of that before he would cave. It didn’t take me long to learn who to ask when I wanted something. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And as I recall the teenage years are hellish for everyone involved. Time and patience seems to be the only cure for it. I’m not there, so I don’t really know what kind of father you are, but you obviously love your children and you seem to try your best to be a good father. That’s all anyone can do, and I believe that as your children grow older they will understand that better.

  21. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 29 May 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    i heard somewhere that being a parent is the hardest and best job in the world…oh how true…my parents were far from perfect (alcohol, physical and verbal domestic violence, ect ect ect) but as you grow older you learn to accept that they are human with their own frailties and burdens to bear or let it poison you…as it is now i love my parents more than ever, they’re a vital part of my and my daughter’s lives…
    the twillies may appear to be alienated from you but tell them how much you love them before they get on that plane tomorrow…they’ll be ok…
    love always…

  22. avatar
    tim | 29 May 2008 at 2:00 pm #

    in typical kilbey fashion, i think you are probably a little harder, little more critical of yourself than others would be…nobody’s perfect…least of all me..and you know better than anyone steve that we can look back at the past we can regret some of the choices we made but what’s done is done. Its today that matters dude….what are you doing today as a father…we can’t go back…if you look back, you are always going to find things you wish you had done different….but really its about asking yourself the question…”what’s the most important thing i can do today” in this role….and that goes for all your roles…
    father
    husband
    son
    artist
    band member
    etc.
    etc.

    Yeah, don’t know too many 16 year olds want to hang with their parents i mean…at that age…i think its all about trying to define themselves.

    My biggest challenge as a father is trying to keep my kids safe…while at the sametime not making them afraid of everthing…don’t run down the stairs you could trip and fall…
    look both ways before crossing the road…all that stuff..but at the same time you have to live your life…kids need to be kids…its a delicate balance…i have friends who are so hands off as parents …they are like..well if they fall and hurt themselves they’ll learn….where i am exact oppisite…i believe that i don’t want them to risk some freak accident that lands them in a wheelchair the rest of their lives…crazy maybe…but i believe kids can be educated with out breaking any bones…so their are different schools of thought…but really when it comes down to it…its more by feel, its gutural…and that seems to have served me well…i think..i hope…time will tell..

    listen, I just got out of hospital afer a pretty bad bonk on the head…i have not been on this blog in a while…can anyone tell me where i can get some PAINKILLER or do i have to settle with my tylonel number 3’s??????

  23. avatar
    veleska1970 | 29 May 2008 at 2:49 pm #

    sorry to hear about your mishap, tim. hope you’re feeling better soon!! <3

  24. avatar
    matt | 29 May 2008 at 3:02 pm #

    Hey Steve, that was extremely touching to read. I lost my mother to an aneurysm when I was 14yo… she was only 40. I attribute so much of my good parenting to her now, as a single father. Just want to say I understand so much here. Thanks.

  25. avatar
    Matthew | 29 May 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    PS… doh… was signed in to the wrong email account when I posted just now as “matt”… heh.

  26. avatar
    fantasticandy | 29 May 2008 at 3:42 pm #

    oh…steve,
    it’s a phase…..
    don’t want to chastise you in any way…but deep down..you know what’s up with them.
    they WLL come to understand in time.
    they don’t yet fully realise that ‘dad’
    is one of the finest songwiters ever, and that everybody wanted a piece of him…that their youth was the most difficult time of their father’s life.
    theyr’e jealous…..
    you would be too.
    but you ARE a good bloke…and you will make it better.
    tons of love to the lot of you,
    andy L.

  27. avatar
    persephone2u | 29 May 2008 at 5:26 pm #

    Linjo said: “Hope all the girls out there understand the ‘shed’ mentality. I was indocrinated by my father that men need to have men time or time alone, its a primeval thang!”

    The same thing could be said about females. We need our own private time also which is why I sit here on my MacBook Pro and write this. It’s my time alone and my iPod and Boris Johnson book (how sad is it that I’m smitten with the new mayor of London?) are at the ready for a relaxing evening tonight. But if my partner in crime ever disappeared into a shed or anywhere else instead of pulling his weight, he’d get a swift kick up the backside, lol! Don’t think he’d ever want to take his chances there.

  28. avatar
    davem | 29 May 2008 at 5:36 pm #

    I will be thinking of you tomorrow SK.
    It is a hard effing job though this parenting malarkey.
    Just when you think you’re seeing a jot of progress & making a half decent fist of it something occurs to make you feel hopelessly inadequate….that’s when I turn to you and have an SK fix.
    We’re lucky to have you around – so are all your girls!!
    Love you more,

    xx

  29. avatar
    Cee | 29 May 2008 at 5:40 pm #

    Going to see Mom and Dad 6 months earlier than expected – will give them a big ol’ abrazo as soon as I set eyes on ’em.
    Difficult seeing my tough as nails Dad aging and dealing with macular generation. Difficult seeing my delicate Mom also aging and having to step into the role of domestic decision maker.
    My parents gave my 2 brothers and I a great childhood, our teenage years and beyond got all wonky… I can’t go any deeper or it’ll become a psych session.

  30. avatar
    davem | 29 May 2008 at 9:11 pm #

    Thanks for the nappies ref…I’m assuming that was for us poms??!!
    Your attention to detail is incredible.

  31. avatar
    Ross B | 30 May 2008 at 1:46 pm #

    Here’s a quirky coincidence…i like quirky coincidences…but this farther hood blog has weighed on me and have been thinking about it alot as it reflects stuff i’m going through and have been thinking about anyway, so today i was setting up a book sale stall and as i was thinking about this particular blog a book called ‘Fathers in writing’ came into my hands: it’s a book of Australian short stories – so I took it of course.

    I do like Australian short stories, as an aside there’s a particularly good one about Canberra in the penguin or oxford book of aussie short stories by a Margaret A-something, this story tends to expose the drab & dark underbelly of Canberra, it’s called ‘Belladonna Gardens’.

    The irony of ironies is of course that I took to the pub this evening to sink a few and watch the footie – usually an avowed anathema for me – and what my dear old dad used to do eight days a week…aaaggghhh!!!

    Life is grand…the whole damn experience of it!

    I wish your daughters well on their trip back to Sweden.

    Regards, r.

  32. avatar
    Ross B | 30 May 2008 at 2:07 pm #

    ps..all this talk of sheds, very Nick Drake!


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