When my wife first got pregnant over four years ago I knew I wasn’t ready to be a Dad. I hardly ever spent time with little kids and my patience for anything in life was a thin sheet of ice. There wasn’t one part of how to take care of a child that I knew. We went to the local Barnes and Noble one day and I bought several books on being a dad and on what to expect when my wife was pregnant. I probably read a chapter of one book and never picked it up again. Going in as a rookie was going to have to work.
Now, I stay home with my munchkins every day and bring them to the gym with me when I have to go workout and train classes. I can tackle any task involved with caring for my children. Each day is a new adventure and it’s surprising how much I learn from my children. Watching them is like sitting down to catch an old school Animal Planet show where the narrator gives a play by play of the lion stalking the gazelle. They certainly are interesting creatures.
But it’s not all fun and games. There are some hard things about being a dad that get to me and as is for any parent anywhere in the world, it’s exhausting. I feel I’m in the position of being home with them every day as a spiritual lesson on how to be a better human being. It’s part of my life experience to be there for them and teach them how to live. But often, I just want to escape.
It’s not easy being dad, or mom. One of the hardest parts is understanding the simple fact that my children are exactly that, children. They’re going to do crazy things. They’re going to destroy my rug, slime up my chairs, throw things, break things, climb things, and turn everything upside down. There will be long nights of screaming kids fighting to not go to sleep. There will be battles at the dinner table when my daughter doesn’t eat her carrots or when my son won’t keep his filthy feet off the table top. Keeping composure is tough. We want to scream and yell to release some of the tension their behavior creates, the hard part is being calm.
One of the toughest challenges of my life has without a doubt been the fight of exhaustion. As an introvert who thrives on alone time and regains mental clarity and energy during that time, being with kids every day drains me completely, by ten o’clock in the morning. It wouldn’t be fair to not say this, but without a quick nap when they nap, I’d probably operate like a Walking Dead zombie. When my kids drain my mental energy it’s easy for me to lose control of my work, my purpose, and my attitude. “I don’t give a fuck” has been a statement I’ve declared many times in the last three years, because quite frankly, when I’m exhausted I honestly do not give a flying fugazi.
Caring for them when they don’t feel well, finding them another option when they don’t want pork, trying to contain them in the play gate at the gym during class, and having an adult conversation in their presence sucks the life out of me. But before I know it, they’ll be in school and gone all the time. They’ll be going to wrestling practice or jiu jitsu class. They’ll be sleeping over friend’s houses and partyting until the sun comes up. They’ll be asking for gas money and looking at colleges.
The hardest part of being dad is that knowing one day, they won’t be hanging on my shoulders and spilling my water on my computer and paperwork. For now, I need to enjoy the moment.