One of the most difficult things that I’ve had to confront in having a stroke involves some of the fundamental issues concerning my manhood and being a man.
Let’s put this in context and give you some background: In Australia, where I come from, men are men. For my 14th birthday, I was taken walking in the Gammon Ranges by my father, where they only have rain about every 200 years. We went with his best friend - a real man’s man who goes walking in the Olga Ranges with only a bow and arrow, making his living by hunting feral goats.
So, on my 14th birthday, we climbed a mountain in the Olga ranges and we camped at the top. It actually snowed there for the first time in 200 years. Masculinity-wise, it was all downhill from there; nowadays, I'm an office and TV studio-bound laptop-masher with one arm that doesn't work, who currently can only get around with a stick.
As you can imagine, my image of what a true man is doesn't exactly match my current situation.
The real question I have to ask myself is; are my Dad and his mate a valid picture of manhood? It’s certainly a very macho picture of manhood, and I have to realise that I won’t be Crocodile Dundee after I’ve had a massive stroke. Probably a better question is; do I have to be Crocodile Dundee to be a good father? I think I’ve come to the conclusion: ‘No’.
I had a talk to one of my best friends about fatherhood, and he said that while most men are - obviously - physically capable of being a father, most are completely emotionally incapable and inadequate. If there's one thing that my stroke has done is force me to become more emotionally adequate - so after much deliberation, I feel that in the end I have come to the conclusion that once you have had a stroke you can still be a man and become a real father. And actually, I might even end up being a better father.
So what do you think? Do you have to be Crocodile Dundee to raise a child?