Today there’s a hole in my house. An empty space that’s been suddenly carved out like a calving glacier, solid for years then suddenly breaking off and floating away from the mainland.
Number Two son, at 21, has moved out of home and shifted in with his girlfriend. My “iceberg” has lost a big chunk of its mass and is rocking in the turbulence.
Sure, it had to happen. I left home at 18 to explore the halls (pubs) of Otago Uni, surviving and thriving on the fortified beverage of the South, Speights. It helped make me, shape me, and gave me friends for life. (And a summer romance which led to a wife and five kids. Bonus).
But this is different: This is my child, my toddler, my teenager, my man-child. He’s the one who, six months ago, told my wife and me, “I’m not leaving home, ever. And pretty soon, you won’t be able to walk downstairs, so I’ll help you out. I’ll take over your room upstairs with the ensuite, and you have mine downstairs.” Gee, thanks, son!
Being a dad of five kids is a big chunk of who I am, my “ego”, my drive, my reasons for being, and pretty much my main topic of conversation. I love being a #sportdad, taxi, coach, shaper, supporter, and fine purveyor of dad jokes. But there’s change happening around me and I don’t like it. Just like the rising sea temperatures causing my icebergs to break up, the “temperature” of the water around me is changing rapidly, and I have little control over what bits break off.
It’s change, it’s out of my control, and it’s very unnerving. My manopausal world is in big flux, and I can feel it accelerating rapidly.
Living your life with your kids is great. Living it through your kids is not. I see it happening in fellow “manopausal dads”. The sense of loss, displacement, and disorientation (and a degree of boredom) as their kids move on from them. They get their driver’s licence and start driving themselves, their girlfriends/boyfriends taking over time and attention, OE’s being planned, unis being applied for, jobs being taken… No longer needing Dad (and Dad no longer being needed).
For the manopausal man, this is a danger time. When key drivers of your ego, of what makes “you” and what motivates you disappears, it leaves a vacuum. How that vacuum gets refilled is critical to getting through manopause unscathed mentally, physically, matrimonially, and monetarily.
So here’s my “Son’s Moved Out”, fill-the-gap plan.
- Let the water settle. A big chunk has calved off, so I’m just going to hold still for a while and let things settle.
- Don’t make a decision(s). The waves are still big. If I try to launch a boat in them (make a decision), I’ll be focusing on the wave right in front of me. I’ll be reactive and likely to overreact. And capsize.
- Put out some lines — not to haul the calved off piece back in, but to keep it connected.
- Rediscover, re-explore. I’ve lost a chunk from a part of my life, but that frees up time, energy, and space to recreate.
- Book in an event. Make a date. Set a plan. Act.
- Get a smaller house. Big house, big holes. Small house, no holes.
Manopause: It’s a time of change and disturbance. Random waves, rough waters, and the occasional calm patch. Full steam ahead!
Tim Corbett likes to cause change and, at times, trouble. He is a husband, father, a sportdad, a speaker, an image maker @timcnz, and the Director of Change at The Change Lab.