Have a (Not Un) Happy Day!

I have noticed something about many men I know
in my work and in my life.
Not unhappy is the new happy.
Somewhere, somehow, men have decided that
not being unhappy is where they set the bar.
In their marriage, in their career, in life.
Not bad is good enough.
Men who get through each day
keeping the peace; avoiding conflict.
Good men, good fathers
who deserve to be wildly happy, full and met,
instead, are men who somehow
learned,
were taught
or decided
their happy doesn’t matter.
So, they do everything their families ask
and don’t ask for anything for themselves.
Sometimes stealing little bits of happiness
when no one’s looking
and pretending it’s enough.
It makes me sad
and it makes my heart hurt in a way I can’t explain.
And it makes me fearful for what we might
be creating in our sons.
What is needed, I think,
is to have the courage to show—not tell, show–our sons
they matter.
And the way to do that, Dad,
is to show them you matter.
Not when they’re out of the house, now.
Do your own hard—and sometimes painful—work
to find your happy.
Whatever happy might look like.

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In The Gratitude of the Season