Dear Weary Dads,
I know where you are.
I know where you’ve been.
I know how you feel.
I’m a weary Dad too.
I’ve got more responsibility than time. I often feel like I’ve got a dozen plates spinning, and I can’t afford to let one drop. My plates are my kids, my wife, my jobs, my community, myself.
I know you do, too. You want to be the hero to your kids. You want to be the loving, New-Age Dad who’s involved with his kids lives, their hopes and their dreams. You want to teach them to be ladies and gentlemen, to respect their elders and have great self-esteem. You want to be the one they come to when they’re hurt; when they need someone to talk to. You want to be the one who teaches them the secret of the lay-up in the driveway, and reads them stories before bed. You want them to be innocent but not naive; to be smart but not nerdy. You want them to be pillars of their community. You want them to see how much you love their mother.
You want to be a good husband. You want to be your wife’s best friend, her lover, her confidant. You want an active role in her life. You want time for her. You want it to be like it was before you had kids – when you were dating and had the time to just stare into each others’ eyes and talk. You want to spend quality time together.
You’re in your mid-thirties now, and you’re invested in your job, too. You try to be a leader in your field, a mentor to the newcomers and resource for your colleagues. It takes mental and physical energy, and you owe it to yourself and your clients to give it all you’ve got.
Since you’re officially a ‘grown up’ you realize that it takes more than griping around the kitchen table and the condemnation of others to make the world a better place, so you give of yourself to the greater good as well. You vote, you join committees and boards and groups. You strive to create the world you want your children to grow up in.
You have little to no time left for yourself. To accomplish your goals, you work all day, devote yourself to the kids during their waking hours, and give what’s left to your wife. You do the best you can, but you still fall asleep on the couch more often than not. She knows you love her. She appreciates the daily sacrifice you make trading your sanity and time for the things she and the kids need.
You drag your sorry butt out of bed before six each morning, go to work all day, every day, sometimes working two jobs to make ends meet and to give your kids some of the things they deserve, though none of it replaces the quiet life your grandparents lived. They lived in a world with real relationships, not just “social networks.” They lived in a world where Dad had DAD’S CHAIR, and he got to watch the news in peace. You long for the simpler times of even the early 80s, but they don’t exist anymore. Now you compete for your kids’ attention with the likes of Twerky Cyrus and Taylor What’s-her-name.
They will see the effort you put forth and respect you for it. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually. They’ll remember fondly the special time you set aside for them, and all the pee wee games and concerts you made it to. They’ll remember the affectionate hair-tousles and the hugs and kisses and tuck-me-into-beds you gave.
Once the job is done, the kids tended to, the house picked up (you help out because you’re a modern man), and the wife has been given her slice of attention, you drop at 10:30-11:00 at night,. You get up early the next day, and the next day, and the day after that.
Here’s my promise: it’s going to get better. I can’t tell you how I know, but I do. It has to. If you give up that hope, you’re screwed.