Being a dad is hard work.
What the hell does that even mean? Hard work?
A labor of love? A duty? A responsibility?
There are times when I talk to my friends when I’m having a hard day being a dad. Often I’m met with ‘Yeah, but they’re really worth it.’ or ‘The joy outweighs the pain.’ or…well, you get the point. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I’m on the giving end of those catch phrases. When I pause to think about it though – In that moment, I might be providing a disservice to the dad outpouring his struggle to me.
I sit back and wonder – what would it be like to receive a ‘Yeah man. I hear that.’ or ‘I understand.’ or ‘I get it.’ What would it feel like to sense the empathetic support of another man living the experience of a similar struggle. Yeah, that sounds more like it.
The last few days (or weeks? or months?) my son has been waking up in the middle of the night (or super freakin early in the morning). Night terrors. Bad dreams. Developmentally appropriate. I get it. It still sucks. It’s still hard as hell to punch through an 8 or 12 or 16 hour day with about 30 seconds of sleep…and still want to be a loving, compassionate, caring man, husband and father.
I do what I can in the moment and when I’m so tired, I trip over my own eyelids, I learn from my mistakes (on the good days, at least).
One of the great things about sleep deprivation is that my filters are weak (Who the hell am I kidding. They’re gone.). I’m in a state where I can express whatever it is I’m feeling because, quite frankly, I don’t have the energy to hold it back. When people ask me how I’m doing I ask them ‘Are you sure you want to know?’
Here’s my point. If you ask me how I’m doing and I start talking about my struggles as a dad for that day, don’t fix me. I’m good. If you want to do anything, listen, nod and every now and then throw in a ‘Yeah man.’ I’m good with that. And, the next time you come up to me talking about your struggles, I’ll shut up and listen. I’ll be the permission you need to let go of whatever it is you need to let go of in that moment.
That’s what we could do for each other – listen.
By the way, this one goes out to all the dads (and moms) who, through their daily struggles and challenges, continue to show up – continue to love – and continue to be awesome. If you haven’t pat yourself on the back today, stop for a second and do it. If you don’t have the energy, I got it…GREAT JOB TODAY! GREAT JOB!
This article originally appeared on Dad 101
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