Fatherhood is one of the greatest challenges a man will ever experience. In the blink of an eye, your whole world is turned upside down. As men, we start our lives in hot pursuit of a career, spouses, and whatever we may desire. And then, things slowly change. Our desires to grow a family takes over as we get married. As time goes on, you learn that you will be a father. In that first moment, everything changes, whether you realize it or not. Suddenly, you enter a new journey where you won’t have all the answers, but you will find them along the way.
People often like to stereotype parenting. We talk a lot about sleepless nights, being puked or pooped on, and tend to flood the internet with pictures of our children on social media. Sometimes, we live into these stereotypes. Yet, there are the instances when your three-year-old climbs into bed with you because they need their daddy. Or they tell you they like your jokes. You are begging to experience the life-changing events of fatherhood. Our lives change because of our children. We struggle against ourselves to become better men.
On January 4, 2014, my world changed for the best. Our first little blessing, my daughter G, was born. I remember as she laid on my wife after delivery, I cried uncontrollable tears of joy. I looked into her little face and realized that something amazing had happened. All the things that used to be struggles and worries had come undone. And I became a father.
Before I became a dad, I worried about silly things. Money, what coffee we would drink, and what intense workout program I should do. After becoming a father, I saw the world in a different light. Sleeping all night was relative and who cares about watching every sporting event. Time became increasingly more difficult to find. And yet, none of those things matter.
Fast forward to July 2017. There are a lot of joyful moments in between those two dates. I could share several thousand. Maybe even tens of thousands of pictures and videos of these precious moments. These moments of struggle and fun change our lives.
“The Struggle Bus”
We often think of struggle as a bad thing. In our house, when one of our kids is having a hard day, we say they are on the “Struggle Bus.” However, I am have been learning about struggles we experience as fathers that shape our lives every day.
Three Life-Changing Struggles of Fatherhood
- Selfishness Exposed. This is a personal struggle that I have to fight on a day-to-day basis. If you are married and/or have kids, you are beginning to expose your selfishness to the world. I personally become selfish about my time. While it is important for me to have some time to myself, I must make the conscious decision to give up my time for the good of my daughters and wife. Someday, I know that I will have more time again. And in those moments, I know I will wish that I had little kids running around instead.
- Marital/Parental Balance. I like to think of our time and energy like a pie. When we are single we have the whole pie to do with as we please. When we get married we cut that pie in half. We will spend half our time with our spouse from now on. Then, when we have our first child, we take that half of pie we still have and cut it in half again. This represents time you still get to yourself in the day. Add another child, cut that little quarter in half. So on and so on. One of the greatest gifts we give our children is being good husbands to their mom. We need to continue to grow and nurture our marriage as much as we do our children. That is why mom gets the first full half.
- Parental Responsibility. As dad’s, we like to be about fun and games. At least I do. I like to make everything fun and exciting. I don’t like to be the enforcer of rules. I struggle with our schedules of sleeping and eating. I don’t always think much of what needs to happen for our little girls in order to stay off the Struggle Bus. But a good daddy does take responsibility for the planning, rules, and schedules. It is hard. Each child can be different. Each day brings new challenges. And yet, we need to do it.
I acknowledge right away that there are most likely a hundred other things that could be on this list. But these seem to be reoccurring themes around me and around other men as I talk with them about being fathers. And the best way for us to learn to cope with struggles and to conquer them is to know we are not the only ones facing these and that we can push past them.
What is a struggle you face as a father? How have you tried to deal with it? Do you need help? Leave a comment below answering any of these questions, because the best way to be a better father is being a father in a community.