The camera shot switches from the judges stunned faces, to the grin of the 14 year old girl who has just “nailed” a Beatles classic and there it is, the next shot that brings the lump into my throat, a little moisture to my eye. It’s the shot of a proud dad watching his daughter out there doing something she loves as best as she can. It’s then when the thought hit me; “..it’s XFactor! Get a hold of yourself”.
Much to the disappointment of my wife, I’ve not been much for emotional displays, especially in the tears department. In short, I don’t cry. Major events have passed without my tears; my wedding, funerals, finding out about my first child being conceived and sitting through The Notebook. Basically it’s just not something I’ve done a lot, until 2 and a bit years ago.
Like many, many dads out there, my first grown up tears came at the birth of my daughter 2 years ago which, in itself, is not a big surprise. What has been surprising is the frequency of welling moments since and what “sets me off”.
So back to XFactor. I should start by saying that I don’t like the show. I think it’s a bit contrived, takes advantage of talented, inexperienced but enthusiastic people and the music they play doesn’t really appeal to my post-grunge, guitar-driven leanings. But this particular night put a lump in my throat three times (one of them for the gay Dad who was singing to make his estranged children proud of him).
So I now find myself asking what’s happened? Obviously a child, but what else has happened to my “steely exterior” (for those that know me I know it’s not or ever has been steely but it sounded good). Well, I think I’ve found the answer… in my father in law.
My father in law is a tough “steely guy”. He’s lived an exciting life, made both good and bad choices, comes from a corporate, business background and even though long retired still runs his life like the executive he was. I’ve seen him negotiate a deal like a shark, manage his apartment block with military precision, coordinate his complex and unpredictable family all the while acting as the “go to” man for any crisis, advice or household handyman task. He’s a man’s man complete with moustache until his daughter (my wife) is involved. Every significant life event that she has had (that I have been around for) has resulted in my father in law descending into tears. Me proposing – tears, us deciding to go to the UK to live – tears, us actually living in the UK – tears, moving back to Australia, getting pregnant, having daughter number 1, getting pregnant again – tears, tears tears.
So what is it? Well, I think it’s pride. It’s the feeling my father in law gets when he sees his little girl all grown up doing amazing things amazingly well. It’s no different to the XFactor Dad watching his daughter or the Dad I saw at the park the other day teaching his son to ride a bike for the first time. It’s like me watching my daughter fly around on her scooter without me helping or pedal her tricycle down the driveway without me pushing.
So, my challenge is to try and embrace it. Try not to fight the feeling and just go with it, letting my “no cry record” slip away.
What makes you proud? What does proud look like for you? When did you last get a lump?
One last thing: According to my wife, there’s good odds my Father in Law is going to cry when he reads this.
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