I sucked as a father. I sucked as a husband. For way too long.
That could be me just talking to the extreme, but the truth is, I have not been a good man and I’ve been a horrible father. The problem? Work has always come first. My family, nearly last. Since I’ve been married to my awesome wife, I haven’t been present. Checked out of life and stuck in a run around Groundhog Day cycle of trying to survive. This is something you won’t hear many men admit, but the fact is, I sucked at being a good husband and role model father to my kids.
Recently, I noticed that it’s not that hard. Why did I fail for so many years? Consciously, my mind was pre-occupied with making money, paying bills, working out, growing a business, and my own personal growth. I built my life around my business. It came first. Putting my passions and work before my family made me a horrible dad and selfish husband.
I failed the expectations of my wife and our life together. Every day was about how I’d make money and not how I’d show my wife I love her. Every day was about what business task needed to be done and not what my daughter wanted and needed from me, her prince charming. It’s a shame I didn’t realize this. As busy men, we get caught up in the chase for money easily. It’s our nature. Our fathers did it and their fathers did the same. How we’re going to earn more money is the first thing we think when our wife says “I’m pregnant.”
Over the weekend I came across a blog post a friend shared on Facebook. I don’t remember what it was about but the site has caught my eye. This site named ScaryMommy.com is full of useful posts for moms and a big fountain of pyshcologial information about what goes on in the minds of women of all ages. After a few minutes, I was shocked at what I read. I never realized how many young women desperately seek attention, love, and help from their “checked out” “dear husbands”. I also did not realize how my wife needs me in the same way. Nobody taught me this growing up. Leave it to angry 35 year old SAHMs (I guess this means stay at home moms) to teach me.
Naturally intrigued, I spent an hour reading some of their “confessions”. I’ve never seen a more raw in depth look into the minds of women then I have read in their confessional portal. On the site, there is a section where anyone can anonymously write a “confession”, and they blew me away. It was then I noticed I have been absent or mentally checked out from my family life for way too long. I failed at my biggest responsibility, my biggest task, my true purpose.
There was a time when every day I would write my wife a love letter, note, email, or poem and there was a time when I would say “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” I made the mistake of putting my family last and now I stand here with a goal in mind to reverse the wrong.
I remember the nights with my daughter when she was under a year old. She would wake up in the middle of the night and I would simply say to my wife, “You do it”, and roll over back to sleep because being “rested” when getting up at 4am to coach my classes was more important than helping my daughter, and I never considered how my wife felt. I remember the nights when I would come home at 8pm after my last training session of the day, selfishly make myself dinner without asking my wife if she ate, jump on the computer to write a stupid blog post, and then like a dickhead, walk right into my bedroom and go to sleep. No interaction with my family. Remember, they came last. Coaching was the only thing that mattered. I let my concern for whether Stacey or Dave lost 20 pounds become more important than what my wife and kids needed from me at home.
When I would go to seminars or mastermind meetings, I’d be gone for two or three days. What would we do with the kids? Not my problem. “You take care of it.”
The crazy thing is, I never stopped to think about this stuff. I never put myself in my wife’s shoes. It never came to my top of mind awareness that maybe I was f***ing up, bad. I thought my daddy daughter day once a week was “enough” to make everyone happy. “I stay home one day a week, I’m a good dad.”
You probably think I’m a jerk by now, and I was, just know that I am not alone. There are other fathers out there right now, maybe some reading this, that are dropping the ball and acting like a child. Dads everywhere are sneaking in ten or twenty minutes a day with their families, thinking it’s all good. Dads everywhere are leaving the house at four or five in the morning and not finishing work and arriving home until their babies are sleeping, thinking it’s all good. Moms everywhere are turning to drinks, pills, scarymommy.com, or other men (and women).
As men, we’re wired differently and we have a laser focus that ties in with our ego. We work hard to make money, grow through self improvement, get recognition, and live our best lives. The problem is, we forget about what really matters. Sure, we do what we have to do to put food on the table, secure shelter, and make sure our families have clothes, but when we jump the gun into marriage and plan our future, we never think about the long hours away from our brides and our adorable but insane children.
I’m just grateful I’m right where I need to be. With the three most important people in the world.