The man of the house and his dog

Being Fired as Man of the House

Micah Baldwin
Oct 24, 2013 · 3 min read

“Don’t give me that mom shit.”

I was settled into my familiar spot on the couch. A couch that for the past six years I had sit in weekly. The same cheap art hung on the wall. The same laughable iMac that looked like it was from 2003 sat on his desk.

“Why does it always have to be about my mom?”

He lifted his head up slowly from the pad he was writing on. The look he gave was the same one I had seen since the first time I sat down in that overly soft couch. It was a studied look, one perfected over years and years of talking to people just like me.

“Just for once, can you therapist motherfuckers not blame everything on the mother? Maybe, just maybe, it’s some other reason.”

But I knew it wasn’t.

My parents divorced when I was about a year and a half old. My father wasn’t very good at being a father. Later, in talking about it with him over coffee that seemed to become more bitter as the conversation progress, he explained that he never really wanted to be a father.

What wasn’t said was it was less about him wanting to be a father, and more about him not wanting to have to share his time with anyone other than himself. If my father excelled at anything, he certainly excelled at putting himself first.

“Are you angry with your father?”

I sighed. I knew that therapy was helpful. It certainly helped me realize the distinct death spiral I was in and decide to was better to commit to coming out of it, rather than commit to perfecting my self-destruction. But I hated the cliche I had become.

“No,” I lied, “I don’t hate my father. Other than in here, I barely think of him.”

And, like clockwork came the question. The one question I could never answer.

“How does that make you feel?”

Fuck. I resisted laying down on the couch. There was only so much cliche I could take. I took a moment to let the afternoon sun spread across my shoulders. First just my right shoulder, then my back, then my left shoulder. I closed my eyes as I slowly lost my mind.

“Right now? Annoyed that you keep asking that damn question. I have no idea how I feel, except that I feel nearly nothing.”

As time passed, the smell of the cheap tea he drank began to be of interest to me. I slowly inhaled trying to figure out each herb that was seeping in a mug that read “I <3 Dad!” on the side.

“Jasmine,” I interrupted. “You are drinking jasmine tea.”

“I am.Micah, we have to talk about the abandonment by your mother.”

“My mom never abandoned me! It was me and her. We were together from the day I was born. We came to California together when I was two. I was the man of the house growing up.”

I could feel my protective anger rise. Who was he to talk about my mom like that? He who spent a hour a week with me and had never met her?

“Until the day you were fired as man of the house. The day your mom decided to give that privilege to your step-father.”

And like happened so often during our conversations, I knew he was right.

Of the more than 300 sessions I had, that 3 minute exchange has sat in my brain and percolated up most often. And ever since I stepped down as CEO at Graphicly, I have thought about it more and more.

My biggest concern in firing myself as CEO was could I live in a world of supporting decisions rather than making them. And while it has had its bumpy moments, and as expected there are decisions made that I wouldn’t have made, overall I have found the experience to be as equally freeing as frustrating, and the challenge of just shutting my mouth to be exhilarating and rewarding.

Like when I was three, not being man of the house isn’t an indication of weakness, rather it demostrates an understanding of focusing on what is important.

How does that make me feel?

Pretty darn fine.

The Story of You

What Makes You, Well, You.

    Micah Baldwin

    Written by

    Old startup guy. Investor. @amazon alum. Currently @create33pnw @madronaventures. Loves dogs, cats & donuts. Has built a few, sold a few and failed a few.

    The Story of You

    What Makes You, Well, You.

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