Was in Sydney last week for the Dymocks D Publishing launch (which, as one of the selected initial authors, I will write more on later after I have gone through details of the final agreement they are offering) and spent a lot of time in between engagements at my favourite Sydney haunt: my old friend Agnes W, aka the Art Gallery of NSW.
For some reason, not sure why, I ended up spending a lot of time thinking of Dads and these pictures, set near each other in the 19th Century section really drew me in. I sat and gazed into them for ages.
I remember when I was in East Africa in 2005, visiting refugee camps in Rwanda, the faces of the fathers. In their eyes and in their stories I heard so often the pain of not being able to protect one’s kids, of not being able to support them. It really affected me, as I was then a relatively new father and I tried to put myself in their shoes and tried to understand their emotions. Even with the massive gaps between the life experience of them and me, I felt enough of that hurt to still carry it.
Looking at these beautiful works, I thought of them again and sent them white light, as to all the Dads out there who are trying their best and finding the going tough, confronting, frustrating and painful.
The bond between children and their mothers is of course omnipotent. But the role of father’s is under-valued and under-recognised I think.
These three paintings reflect something of that in that each depicts a moment in which, for whatever reason (in two cases because they are dead) mothers are absent.
Generally, the love of a father is just as strong and powerful as that of a mother. It’s just that fathers don’t often have the emotional tools of women, nor the direct physical relationship that mothers have.
So, many of us find it difficult to know where to put our love, how to shape it and give it. Most of us struggle with those dynamics.
Most of us are also aware of that though, and although our love is often oddly formed and manifested, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. And most of us just keep trying to get it right.
So, here’s to all dads everywhere…a hug for you all…
And, in the spirit of fatherhood, I jotted down these lines as a pledge for my own daughter:
When you are afraid,
I will stand in front of you;
When you have faith,
I will stand behind you;
When you need a friend,
I will stand beside you.