In collaboration with Women’s eNews, Amy Ferris (author, writer and screenwriter) and Beth Broday (producer/director) have created and curated a column designed to inspire, encourage, awaken and enlighten MEN. We are bringing together an amazing team of men who will write about such topics as love, family, sexuality, compassion, tolerance, empathy and vulnerability, just to name a few. Our fervent wish is to not only include male voices in conversations that are often reserved for women, but to inspire all men to open up their hearts and their minds so that they may stand with us, by us, and for us; to champion our causes, to support our missions, to march with us, and to help shoulder & lift all of our stories. We are thrilled to launch this column so men can raise their voices, share their stories, join in and stand side-by-side with women.

Here is the first in the series:

On Valentine’s Day

by Rob Galvin

Those opening moments are magic, those first days discovering the soul of someone opening themselves up to you, blooming like a rose.

The moments when distance is unbearable, those precious few inches between two bodies staring into each other’s eyes under a full moon’s light hold tantric energy that can’t be found with just any other person.

This is special.

Everything changes in your life.

Stars shine brighter, laughs last longer, and a smile that tells a thousand stories and as many secrets. The smell of her perfume, the taste of those lips, the electrical current sent straight from the essence of the universe courses through your fingertips at the slightest connection. That magic exists in holding hands where the weight of everything is measured in the firmness of the grip while remaining tender. The balancing act that two people master when they fall in love…these learning moments, they’re the magic ones.

I met my love, my magic, Kagin Marie Dwyer, on Easter Sunday in 2003.

A beautiful sunny day on the Bayonne, NJ waterfront looking over Port Newark when she entered my life – she walked down to the water and sat next to me.

I’ll always owe that city by the sea for introducing me to my love.

I was homeless and addicted to so many different types of escape, with no worthwhile employment or direction. All I had was my backpack, my notebook and the clothes I was wearing on my back.

     At 17, Kagin was living with her friend’s family. Her story was far more heartbreaking than anything I’d ever heard. She had experienced so much loss and abuse in her life, it made me not want to protect her, but need to protect her. She’d lost her father when she was two years old – just a baby, and then her stepfather when she was a young girl. Her mother, a victim of addiction, was completely unreliable and undependable. Kagin’s only sanctuary was found in her grandparents, who raised her.

The things she saw and the life she endured in her younger years could fill a book; a sad girl’s story that no one should have had to live. She built up walls, and she shied away from affection – trust became a commodity too precious to give up easily. Her grandparents balanced the chaos with love and that, more than anything, built this amazingly complex woman.

That magic remained steady – focused, driving our love one more step forward every single day. I was reckless, a lost Northeast Jersey tempest, angry at the world. 

She was my only light.

She loved the “fixer-upper” aspect of me – someone to care for, someone to save. A wild disposition coupled with the thrill of young love will make a kid do some out-of-pocket things.

I dragged people out of car windows for insulting her, robbed people to provide food and, truth be told, that’s how I bought her an engagement ring. I’d do anything for that smile, a piece of that magic – for that love, my love.

She trained me to be all I was meant to be. The only thing I would ever be good at… fatherhood.

All I ever wanted out of life was to be a father. Our combined childhood trauma fueled the ambition to be better than we’d had, to do better than they’d done, to leave this world with a gift rather than a burden.

We resolved early on to do the best we could to raise not only ‘happy’ children but also ‘extraordinary’ children. We wanted to raise world-changers, but there’s a price to that.

Tommy is now 14, a mix of both Kagin and me in equal measure. He’s smart, funny as hell, very laid back and private, not looking to shake things up much, stealthy in his maneuvers – this is my wife, he gets that from her.

When he makes an irrational decision or does some goofy dance to make people laugh, or longs for attention…that’s all me. We’ve got a lot in common. 

I love that boy.

Riley Riel is eleven and she is quite the opposite. She is brilliantly strong-minded, inquisitive, fierce, and highly allergic to bullshit. She’s an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, a proud ally to the BLM movement, staunchly anti-fascist, and down to scrap with anyone who has a problem with that.  

I love that girl.

Raising a child to not be afraid of challenging authority is a challenge in of itself. As authoritative figures responsible for their well-being, we have to walk a thin line to keep them safe and disciplined – motivated – as well as cradling their rebellious sides to aid them as they grow into adults in the world, who won’t take shit from anyone.

We want them to do what they love; we want them to have passion in their lives; we don’t want them to settle for anything less than they deserve and to know their worth every minute of every day so that when some nasty supervisor talks down to them or demeans them, they won’t feel stuck in that position their whole lives. We aren’t pumping out cookie-cutter robot zombies. We are raising world changers.

The ones who speak out when they see injustice.

The ones who look at something that’s been done a million times a certain way and say, “what about if we tried this…?”.

The ones who have fire in their eyes, hearts, and minds.

The ones not afraid of the repercussions by stepping forward.

We take what we were given as children and work with that to give the world smarter, stronger, and better versions of ourselves.

Raising world changers in a world that desperately needs changing.

Rob Galvin is a writer and merchant mariner born and raised in Bayonne New Jersey.  The proud father of Tommy and Riley, and husband to Kagin Galvin.  Rob has also been a proud and vocal union member during his career.  He is an ally for the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as a proud advocate for women’s equality and BLM.  Currently based in Dingmans Ferry PA, he spends his time writing in the mountains when he is not away at sea.