Father's Day

By Robb Flynn

I wrote this back in 2012, when my kids were 8 and 5 (they're now 14 and 11) can't remember for who, but it wasn't a General Journal, so if you've read this already, go ahead and ignore.  I was reminded about it today, while being more-annoyed-than-I-prolly-should-be with the onslaught of Father's Day texts I receive from people I rarely speak to (why do we need to send a FD text to someone we haven't spoken to in 3 years??).

Regardless, it still applies today.

I should probably do an updated one that talks about the the challenges of being a touring dad in 2018, but for now, I'm sending this out.

Any dad's reading this?  Tell me about your challenges and your highlights.

Shout out to all the dad's out there holding it down through thick and thin.

Being a dad is the greatest gift that has come into my life.
It is something I try everyday to get better at.

It's the single hardest job I've ever had, and it's twice as hard for my wife Genevra, who for months at a time, is basically a single mom (with financial support from me) who raises our 2 sons, Zander and Wyatt.

Yes, being in a touring metal band and balancing fatherhood is a challenge in so many ways that I wouldn't have expected.  It can be amazing, inspiring, depressing, heartbreaking, hilarious, life-afffirming, and at it's best, makes me feel like a kid again.

For over 23 years straight now, I've been on tour.

I've never retired, never gone on hiatus, took 5 years off to recharge.  Nope, since I was a teenager I've been on tour, and Machine Head is a band that tours hard. Harder than 90% of the metal, rock, or pop acts / bands out there (James Brown eat you heart out!).  

The shortest tour we've done? 16 months.  
The longest? 3 years and 1 month.  

Granted there were breaks in between tours, some as long as 2 1/2 months, some as short as 5 days.  

The flip side is that when I'm home writing a record, I can be home for a year straight, spending a lot of undivided time with them.  But when I'm touring a new record, another tour is always on the horizon, and for both Zander and Wyatt that looming feeling that "Dada" is going away soon is tough.  

There's the depressing parts:  
Often times, the week before a tour is the hardest because the boys begin to shut down emotionally, or act out.  It's a coping-mechanism.  It allows them to deal with the situation they are about to face.  They don't understand that, and certainly can't rationalize it.  I've had my 5 year old Wyatt tell me, "he hates my job, he hates my band, and he hates how it takes me away from him".  My 8 year old Zander often closes up, he didn't speak to me on Skype for 8-outta-of-a-10 week Slipknot tour, because he was mad at me for being gone.  

It was brutally hard.  

I couldn't be mad.

They miss me, and I miss them.

I've missed many things in their life too. I've missed both of their "first steps", both their first teeth, both their first words, plays, recitals, school functions, soccer games, first home runs at baseball games, wrestling classes, Tae Kwon Do classes, basketball camps, camping trips.  

I've missed big chunks of them growing up.  

And then there's the hilarious and absurd parts of being a heavy metal dad:  
We played the Download Festival in England in 2007 when Zander was 3, and Wyatt was 6 months, it was the last show of the tour and I flew home the day after. When I walked in the door fresh off a 12 hour plane flight at 3 in the afternoon, my wife handed the kids over and said "you're turn", and walked out the door.  Zander proceeded to make 7 "poopy-diapers" that day.  



24 hours ago I was a Metal God commanding 65,000 people into a frenzy that Kerrang! magazine said "blew Slayer away", and now I'm changing 7 poopy-diapers!!  

Ah fatherhood, it has a way of humbling you.

And then there is the life-affirming parts, the parts of fatherhood that remind you why you're alive:
As a self-professed Star Wars nerd, being a dad has truly been one of the most enjoyable things in life.  

We're probably a bit more conservative than most parents when it comes to TV and movies. Hell, I try not to swear in front of the kids.  And until a few months ago, hadn't show Star Wars to either kid, and even now, only 8 year old Zander has seen it.  But since most of the kids at school had watched that movie, and they had a ton of the toys, I wanted to devise a way for them to know the story of Star Wars.  So I told them the story of Star Wars.  

I broke each movie down into about 10 to 12 different "stories".  I would get online and read the movie script for about 30 minutes, and then every 2 or 3 nights we'd all lay down in their bed, turn out the lights and I'd have them stare at the ceiling and "listen" to the story of Star Wars.  I'd do all the voices, make it all dramatic, leave every story on a cliff-hanger.

It was AWESOME!  

They could stop me to ask me about characters or details (which they often did) and later as we found out, the best part of it, was that it allowed them to dream, to use their imagination about what Star Wars could be, or look like.  In fact, when they finally watched the movie, it was a little strange as they had imagined it as so much more.

I tell ya, the first time I had a lightsaber battle with the boys, I was practically in tears.  SO cool.  

We've gone thru all 6 Star Wars movies now, all 4 Indiana Jones, and are about to start Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Being a heavy metal dad is a life less ordinary.  It is a choice the wife and I made, and a life we chose to bring our kids into.  And while it is Father's Day, I'd like to give some huge props to Genevra for the enormous, nearly inhuman amount of effort she puts into raising our kids, the damn fine job she does, the extraordinary patience she has in dealing with a cranky, barnacle-ly, son-of-a-bitch like myself, and for being tough as nails and making me a better father.  

To my own Dad, Conrad Flynn (shown above) for being one heck of an awesome Dad.

And for all the heavy metal dad's out there who work there ass off to balance this life we've chosen...

Happy Father's Day

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