Best Job Ever
When I started this blog I wanted it to be a place where heart dads could come and get information from and connect with a fellow heart dad. Today, though, I want to actually step away from the “heart” piece and focus on the “dad” part. It’s Father’s Day and I wanted to wish a happy Father’s Day to all my readers! I hope it’s an awesome day for you and your families, and I know that with your experience, every holiday becomes a big one when you can spend more time with your heart child and they’re doing well.
I remember back in college whenever I’d be asked the typical “Where do you see yourself in x years?” question in a group setting, I’d often be the only one who would ever mention anything about having a family. I thought that was interesting. To be honest, I haven’t had a good relationship with my father and I think that fueled me towards becoming the best dad I could be one day. Since then, God’s blessed me with 3 awesome boys to help protect and mold into fine young men. And also to be honest, I haven’t the slightest idea how to do that. Not the foggiest. I don’t necessarily have an example to go by so I’m pretty much winging it and learning new things all the time. Am I the perfect dad? No. Will I ever be? Unfortunately not. What I will do, however, is try my very best with every bone in my body.
A dad’s life is an interesting one. TV and movies portray dads as typically dumb and lazy, Father’s Day sometimes gets the “meh” treatment (if you compare advertising and whatnot), and I remember all the weird looks I’d get when I was staying home with my oldest son and I’d take him grocery shopping during the day. Thus far, though, I can honestly say the most important part of being a dad is being there. No, I don’t mean “being there” as in “Hey, I’ve been on the couch all day everyday,” I mean it as really being there for your kids. Support them, make memories with them, take lots of pictures, act silly, laugh a lot…because even if they don’t remember it, you always will. It’s not enough to simply pay the bills and put food on the table, you need to invest in your kids. And that’s easy to forget, especially when I’m determined to wash a mountain of dishes but my oldest wants me to sit next to him and watch Backyardigans. Can the dishes wait 20 more minutes til he goes to bed? They always can. The world ain’t gonna explode over a little cleanup in the kitchen. But you know what, sometimes I have to stop and remind myself of that. And you know what else? I always feel relaxed and happy after watching Backyardigans with my 4 year old, as opposed to washing dishes, which can be exhausting sometimes. Why is this important? Lemme drop some knowledge on you: about 95% of the inmates in prison in the United States right now are males, and about 85% of those men had no father involved in their life. Yeah. Whoa. This is serious business.
I’ve started reading a book called “Father Fiction” by Donald Miller (I’ve mentioned him on this blog before, his books are great), which is about his growing up without a dad and learning what manhood and fatherhood really is. I think ALL guys should read this book (You’ll sometimes find it published as “To Own a Dragon”…same book).
One part that has struck me about this book is his discussion of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s book “At Ease: Stories I tell to Friends.” Eisenhower notes that through his childhood, his parents taught him that his very existence was important to their family and the the world as well. Discussing this, Donald Miller writes, “Eisenhower’s parents assumed, and taught their children, that if their children weren’t alive, their family couldn’t function…I mean, can you imagine growing up believing that if you didn’t exist, your family would fall apart? Can you imagine how different the world would be if all children were taught this idea? I found the sentiment striking, and I wondered what it would have been like if, as a kid, I had felt completely needed by my family. My mother needed me, it’s true, and she was certainly loving, but she was also burdened with paying bills, working late hours to pay those bills, and managing life as a single parent…She mothered herself into exhaustion…I knew, somehow, that my mother’s long working hours were because of my sister and me. But I never thought to ascribe my mother’s emotional and physical exhaustion to the lack of a husband and father; rather, I ascribed it to my existence. In other words, I grew up learning the exact opposite of what Eisenhower was taught. I learned that if I didn’t exist, the family would be better off. I grew up believing that if I had never been born, things would be easier for the people I lived. A thought like this can cripple a kid…If a kid grows up feeling he is burdening the people around him, he is going to operate as though the world doesn’t want him.”
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Donald Miller has done an amazing job of opening himself up to people about his childhood and has even developed The Mentoring Project, which wants to equip faith communities to mentor fatherless boys. I really commend him for that and think it’s an awesome project.
So dads…will you join me in working harder to invest in our kids? Give them your time…their childhood won’t last forever. I love to tell my kids that I love being their dad…and it’s true. Yes, it can be exhausting and life can be hectic and busy. But in the end, I love those kids with every fiber of my being and I want to always show them that, whether it’s horseplay on the living room floor, being at every game, or telling them I love them. Let your kids know they’re crucial to you, your family, and the world.
Again, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there…keep being awesome, keep being involved! For those dads who may be in a hospital today with their heart child, I send especially warm wishes to you: keep fighting for your little one…never ever give up. Be strong…for them.