Why This Dad (Sometimes) Feels Unproductive As a Parent
It’s Sunday night and I’m exhausted. My wife is upstairs with our son right now giving him a bath and then she’ll put him to bed for the night.
Finally, I have a good 25 minutes to think about whatever I want to, including “nothing,” without hearing him crying, without trying to keep him from making a mess, or without attempting to invent yet another new way to entertain him.
In other words, I’m spent.
Physically, mentally, and psychologically, I’m done for the weekend. I hate to admit I look forward to going to the office in the morning, but I do.
Because there’s no way to verify my productivity as a dad.
I would love it at the end of the day to receive a “Daddy Report Card.” A while back, I explained that I am the kind of person who thrives on constructive criticism. I’m obsessed with being the best possible version of myself I can be.
Without knowing how to improve and without someone being brave enough to tell me; and without some confirmation of what I’m actually doing right, I tend to get disillusioned, frustrated, and even angry.
Welcome to fatherhood… I know, right?
It doesn’t change the fact that I have good reason to feel this way right now.
At my sales job, the numbers at the end of the month give me a confirmation either way whether or not my dedication paid off.
Here writing for Parents.com, I can know at any moment how well (or unwell) a particular article of mine is doing with readers by viewing something called StatCounter.
Like today, I am pleased to see all my hard work writing about chicken nuggets paid off; people evidently want to know how those things are made. Certain posts like this one take less than 25 minutes and I’m done; just vulnerable streaming of consciousness. But the one about mechanically separated chicken took about 4 days and several people editing it for me to get it just right.
If only a stressful day in Dadland was like that:
“Today, you scored a 99. The only thing to improve on based on today’s role as a dad was that you let him eat a Cheerio off the floor.”
See, that would be cool. I don’t know- blame it on my culture or my generation. I sort of like instant gratification.
Parenthood isn’t that way. Can you really ever know when you’re successful at it? Maybe when they grow up?
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