I noticed his shiny wedding ring right away on his finger. He seemed sophisticated and little uptight. But he didn’t wait long to reveal to me why he was visiting the club tonight. He wanted to talk about his life, his marriage, his children. Sometimes, a men visits a strip club to talk to us strippers about the things they cannot reveal to his friends, not to mention his wife. Because we are “strippers” they fear less being judged and in case we would judge then they could just say, “Oh she’s just a fucked up stripper. I don’t care about what she has to say.” Yet, there is a deep desire to be accepted for who they are, no matter how awkward society would label his secret.
He started slowly, “You know, I have two kids, they are great kids. But sometimes, I wish we wouldn’t have kids.” I asked in a reassuring tone, “Why do you wish that?” He replied, I sometimes regret having kids … because I feel like all my wife and I do is live our life for the kids.” Me, “I understand having kids brings so many responsibilities. That is one reason why I never wanted to have kids and choose not to procreate. Do you feel like you have given up part of your identity in order to fulfill your kid’s lives?” He felt I was getting him, and now, he wasn’t scared to talk anymore, “Yes, exactly. We want our kids to have it better than we did. We want to give them everything they need to be happy and successful, but I feel like I only live to work for them. I try to make enough money so we can get them through private school and send them to college. But it’s never enough.” I said to him, “I can tell you are a very good family man, and you take good care of your wife and your kids. I think, they already have what they need in order to be happy.” But I didn’t really tell this man the truth. I hear men and women tell me all the time that they want their kids to have it better than they had it. And I am sure their parents told them the same thing. I think it’s been told from generation to generation, and the message it gives to the kids is: Your parents are sacrificing their lives so you can have it better. Now, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as the parents find fulfillment in this way of life, like Mother Teresa found fulfillment and happiness in helping the poor. Or like I find joy, happiness, and fulfillment in helping animals and giving them a second chance on life. But these parents are miserable. The man in front of me looked bitter, depleted, and weak. He seemed like a puppet in his own life, following the programs his parents taught him on what happiness means (mainly getting a good education to end up making a lot of money so you can buy a lot of things). What is he really teaching his children: life means being unhappy and working harder to earn more. I think, if he really wants to make his children to have it better than him then he should find his own happiness first, learn to love himself so he can give his children all they need to have a better life than he had: LOVE.
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