dad from day one: Won’t Ever Be Lonely

Week 6.

Maybe somewhat surprisingly, I am a proud Country music fan- though I’m ultimately a Dave Matthews Band/Guster/John Mayer/Bruce Springsteen/Tom Petty kind of guy.  In the past few weeks, in the midst of leaving our lives behind in Nashville and entering uncertainty and a current status of “in between jobs” in Alabama, not having much to do but constantly search for jobs and take care of our baby, the lyrics to a Country song by Andy Griggs from 1999 keep coming to my mind: “I promise you now, you won’t ever be lonely.”  Though the song is obviously written from the perspective of a man in love with a woman, looking forward to spending the rest of his life with her, the lyrics now speak to me in a different way:

“You’re safe from the world wrapped in my arms and I’ll never let go.  Baby, here’s where it starts and I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely. Here’s a shoulder you can cry on and a love you can rely on.  For as long as I live
there will always be a place you belong.”

But while the words to this song obviously make perfect sense in the perspective of me speaking to my child, they actually are more relevant to me in this mindset: I won’t ever be lonely.  Not just him.  But I won’t ever be lonely.

I am better able to understand now why there are so many pregnant teenagers and why MTV’s 16 and Pregnant is such a popular show- because so many kids today are lonely. (I am under the crazy notion that a good number of pregnant teens and extremely young parents are not getting pregnant simply because of the careless lack of birth control, but instead because they subconsciously want to be have a baby in a attempt to be loved by someone.) So many daughters have never been told by their fathers that they are beautiful. So many sons have never heard their father tell them “I’m proud of you”.   Having a baby definitely changes the lonely factor in many ways.  Even if the 19 year-old father who works for minimum wage at the oil change place bales on her soon after the baby is born- at least that young mother will always have someone depending on her.

Granted, I haven’t been lonely in a long time.  But I can easily remember it.  It can be painful; literally.  Last week I watched a National Geographic documentary on solitary confinement where I learned that loneliness is processed in the same part of the brain as pain.  I can easily remember being 20 years old, feeling lost, out of place, an unmatched. I wondered for the next five years if I would be like the actor who played Mr. Belvedere, who never married or had children his whole life. But at age 25, my wife and I met each other and those heavy and desperate thoughts of loneliness haven’t entered my mind in over four years.

Now at age 29, I am the opposite of lonely.  I have a wonderful wife and a beautiful and hilarious baby son that I will always matter to.  And I have a feeling that the older our son Jack gets, the more attention and energy of mine that he will require.  At least until he reaches 7th grade and gets too cool for me.

Lyrics to Andy Griggs’ “You Won’t Ever Be Lonely”:

Life may not always go your way
And every once in awhile you might have a bad day
But I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely
The sky turns dark and everything goes wrong
Run to me and I’ll leave the light on
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely

For as long as I live
There will always be a place you belong
Here beside me
Heart and soul baby — you only
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely

It’s still gonna snow and it’s still gonna rain
The wind’s gonna blow on a cold winter day
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely
You’re safe from the world wrapped in my arms
And I’ll never let go
Baby, here’s where it starts
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely
Here’s a shoulder you can cry on
And a love you can rely on
For as long as I live
There will always be a place you belong

Here beside me
Heart and soul baby — you only
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely
No, no, you won’t ever be lonely

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Manspeak, Volume 12: Transparency

In college I read a book called The Birth Order Connection. If I felt like exaggerating the truth, I could say it “changed my life”. Thanks to the direction of the book, I became better able to understand others based on what order in the family they were born.

Typically, the first born children (or the “only child” of the family) are the most straight-laced, the most concerned with not getting into trouble, and the bossiest (almost every US President has been a “first born”). Middle born children are the most easy-going, the least resistant, the peace makers, and when they become adults are the least likely to get divorced. And usually the last born children are the most free-spirited, the most fun, and the most mischievous.

http://yourtotalhealth.ivillage.com/birth-order-your-personality-8-facts-that-might-surprise-you.html

As I began sharing what I learned from The Birth Order Connection with my friends at college and even back home, I realized something: Most people were amazed because of how much my prediction accurately described their own personality, but some, I offended. A few didn’t like being told who they were based on a researched psychological analysis. Interestingly, these two or three that didn’t like what I was telling them were females.

It would be a few years later before I understood why no males were annoyed by the impressively accurate personality predictions outlined in the book.

Here’s what it all comes down to: As a guy, I know for a fact that I absolutely, definitely, completely want to be understood by people. I want to be “see-through”. I am not a mystery to be unraveled or a phantom to be discovered. I am simply a man- there’s not much to figure out about me and I want to keep it that way. Arguably, much of the motivation I have in writing this never-ending series is simply that: to be better understood despite my gender which is infamous for not talking about feelings, and also to help those who have trouble understanding men.

In fact, when I am in a situation where I feel others don’t understand me or can’t relate to me, I get really frustrated. This can lead to a feeling of loneliness and eventually anger, and possibly depression. This is perfectly demonstrated in the first 15 minutes of the movie Where the Wild Things Are, which is not a kid’s movie, but instead an accurate look at a boy who is crossing into the lonely, scary, strange world of adulthood.

On the contraire, the same is not necessarily true for women. I learned this after reading the book Wild at Heart, which explains that women want to be pursued. They want to be a mystery. They want a man who will take the time to discover them day after day. That’s the opposite of how I’m wired to think and act.

So how did I offend those females back a few years ago when I accurately explained their personalities based on their birth order? Because I was attempting to “figure them out”. That’s completely different than rediscovering a woman. The idea of figuring out a woman is insulting because it insinuates that a woman is that simple. And obviously that is not the case.

But I was simply approaching the situation from the way I see things as a guy. I feel complimented if someone takes the initiative to figure out me out. While I do mature as I age, I don’t change often. I’m set in my ways. I can be figured out. It’s not an insult, it’s an honor.

Men are transparent. They like a formula that works and will faithfully apply that formula everyday as long as it continues to work. Males become frustrated when the pattern is broken. Predictability is good.

This poses a problem for men because most women don’t want to be “figured out”, but do want to be pursued and discovered. For a guy, that in itself is a confusing statement and request. It’s more romantic if he proves himself each new day, willing to learn and do what it takes to please his mysterious woman, yet he must remember that that the job is never complete because a woman can not be figured out.

So how does a man who needs to follow a simple formula properly treat a woman who thrives on not being solved like a puzzle? He remembers a simple formula: Don’t treat a woman like she’s a puzzle to be solved.

All this irony is making my brain hurt.

transparency

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com