Disclaimer: Contains potentially confusing viewpoints that may be exclusive to the male mindset.
The main reason I feel anxious about the thought of having another child is not the financial aspect, or even the fact we only have a 2 bedroom townhouse; it’s knowing that I would be placed in that frustrating position again of not knowing what to do on a daily basis.
Sure, I’d know more of what I was doing the 2nd time around, but it would also be on top of taking care of you too; though you demand less attention than you did when you were a baby.
To see me in my worst element is to see me in a high pressure, reoccurring situation where I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. For me, that was the first 15 months of your life; back when you wouldn’t let me take care of you without Mommy being in the same room.
Therefore, I couldn’t feel like I was leading our family, and it made me feel horrible about myself.
Just to be clear, I don’t mind high pressure at all. In fact, I like the challenge of it; given that I’ve been well trained on the subject.
It’s no secret: I find my self-worth not in how others see me, but in how I see myself. If I don’t feel in control, or at least that I know what my role is, I sort of feel worthless.
Now that you’re well beyond the age of 15 months, in fact, days away from being double that, my frustrating days of flat-out not knowing what to do in regards to being a dad are mostly a thing of the past; back in the year 2011.
As for modern day life, I know my role now; every minute of the day, and I love it!
In addition to being your official chauffeur, bedtime singer, protector from monsters… I also am the official dishwasher, bathroom cleaner, garbage man, vacuumer, relationship mediator, and the parent juggling two jobs outside of home life.
Every night, after our family eats dinner, I know that once Mommy takes you upstairs for your bath, I am going to immediately start washing and drying all the dishes, then wipe off the counter, and vacuum; just in time to go upstairs and sing your final bedtime song.
While it would be really nice to just chill out after dinner instead of doing housework, I don’t even mind. The reason: Because it sure beats the heck out of those first 15 months when I didn’t know my role.
As your dad, who is wired to fix problems and lead others, it’s very challenging for me to… I’m trying to think of a way to say this without using the PG version slang word…
I like to be driving the motorcycle, not riding in the sidecar.
(Watch the movie Garden State, when you’re older, to fully understand the reference. “Sidecars are for…”.)
What I am saying is that right now, I don’t feel like I’m riding in the sidecar. I feel like our life is predictable enough now where I don’t taste the chaos in the air anymore.
I love having this peace in my head; not dwelling on my inabilities to successfully figure out what exactly I’m supposed to do every single second. I love knowing what to do.
Ah, if and when the time comes for a 2nd child, I fear losing that again.
Yesterday I bragged on how much I loved the “Pals” ad by Robinsons. Since then, I’ve read some comments online pointing out that the commercial closes with the tagline, “It’s good to be a dad, it’s better to be a friend.”
For some people, that motto carries a different meaning than it does for me.
Here’s an example, from “richa20560″ on The Drum.com, of the kind of comments that barb in between the positive ones, in reference to the ad:
“Nice ad if you reversed the strapline. Current ad epitomises everything thats wrong with current parenting practises, kids have plenty of friends in their life but only 1 mum & dad this trivialises the importance of stepping up & being the dad you can’t always be their friend, to infer its better to be their friend devalues the vital role of a parent, sometimes you have to say no & sometimes they won’t like you for it. Better to be a dad and raise a child capable of making friends, than being the only one who can bare to be their friend.”
As for me, I hear the phrase “It’s good to be a dad, it’s better to be a friend” and I don’t think that the message is to be a parent who overlooks discipline for the sake of wanting your kid to like you.
I can hear it without thinking it is promoting something stupid like buying alcohol or cigarettes for your kid, too.
Instead, I totally get what ”It’s good to be a dad, it’s better to be a friend” means; without jumping to polarizing conclusions or taking it so literally.
As I mentioned yesterday, it’s impossible to love and lead you without serving you. Therefore, so many of the elements of me being a good dad require that I am a good friend.
My interpretation of ”It’s good to be a dad, it’s better to be a friend” is this: The best part of being a dad is the part where I get to have a buddy who loves me unconditionally.
I could go on to theorize that the worst part, or, my least favorite, is the discipline part. However, it’s no less important that the “being the friend” part.
As your dad, I do my best to make sure the majority of our time together fits into that glorious (and more marketable!) “friend” category; because a good friend can still teach, mentor, and even discipline you.
Really, I guess it just comes down to a person’s definitions of the words “dad” and “friend.”
(Here’s a chance to, if you haven’t. Go ahead, please. I’ll wait.)
As you just watched, the boy in the green shirt puts his arm around the boy in the striped shirt while he was holding the ball, dusts him off when they fall down, compliments him on his throw, lifts him up to the bar he can’t reach, pretends like he’s about to push him into the water, patiently looks over his shoulder as he plays his video game, recognizes the boy’s crush and encourages him to talk to her and insists she likes him too, takes the “fatal hit” while using sticks to play sword fight, serves him juice, stays awake after he falls asleep watching T.V, takes his shoes off for him, carries him upstairs and lays a blanket over him.
They’re clearly friends, right?
The ad closes with the boy in the striped shirt saying, “Good night, Dad.” Then the dad tells his son good night too.
In those 60 seconds, through play, encouragement, and affection, the dad serves the son.
“It probably comes down to this anyway: The most important things I do in life, and that I am best at doing, are the things for which I’m not regularly thanked. Serving is loving and leading. I get that now… no thank you’s required.”
In a history of commercials making the dad out to be an idiot, finally, somebody really (!) gets it right.
“So, in review, a stubborn, penny pinching, Dave Ramsey following, Generation Y dad like me will magically buy a product for his son if he believes that… the product will reinforce the traditional ideas and principles that remind him of his own 1987 version of childhood and/or… the company makes it clear that dads are helpful and important, not idiots.”
A+, Robinsons “Pals.” You are the official dad ad to beat.
Here’s a secret, Son. A dad can never hear enough, from anyone, that he is a good dad.
To outsiders it may appear to be a sensitive male ego thing, but as a dad, I can confirm that routine, positive affirmation is one of the most effective ways to reach and connect with a dad.
So now, I need to go wipe my nose. I could blame it on the Maple trees blooming here in Nashville, triggering my allergies.
Instead, I’ll just admit it. After watching this ad a few times, I’m pretty tore up, in a good way.
Well, you and I were recently having one of those kind of mornings…
You were physically struggling so hard with me as I tried to put on your pants, it reminded me of a WWE wrestling match. You were so upset with me you were crying and throwing a classic tantrum.
I’ve learned by now not to let myself get emotionally caught up in something like this: I realized you and I were not having a rational discussion or disagreement. Instead, it was very irrational.
You had to get dressed, so I continued to calmly communicate that to you as I pulled you shirt over your head.
Then, in your angst, you accidentally hit my shin pretty hard.
I didn’t react at all, because again, I wasn’t emotionally invested in our struggle- I just knew it almost time for us to leave the house and you still were not fully dressed.
The look on my face surely portrayed one confused dad as you tromped on over to the corner of the living room, putting yourself in time-out. You continued crying loud enough to wake our neighbors, stomping your feet and waving your arms in protest.
Yet… you were the one to place yourself in the time-out corner. I never said a word or even gave you my “mad dad” look.
I was too confused to laugh at that moment, so I used that opportunity to pack my lunch.
Then, as I turned my back to make my way to the refrigerator, I saw you strangely moving sideways like Boom Boom from Super Mario Bros. 3, still crying and flailing around, trying to escape from your self-imposed time-out session.
So I let you.
It was a peaceful and sophisticated car ride that morning. We talked about monster trucks and Cheerios, like nothing ever happened.
Men are wired to solve problems. We like fixing things.
I truly feel empowered and alive anytime I correctly identify a problem, apply the solution, and see the successful result. With that being said, one of the things I love best and look forward to the most as your dad is teaching you life lessons.
It’s a huge part of being a dad.
This concept is exemplified in a Facebook page (and hopefully eventually a book) known as 100 Things to Teach My Son. It is the creative project of a dad named RJ Licata who lives in Syracuse, New York.
Since starting less than two months ago on January 13th, the project has already received over 650 Facebook “likes,” despite not being based on anything or anyone famous. He explains on his page:
“On a whim, I made a Facebook post expressing the first (#100) of the top 100 things I wanted to teach my son. I really had no intention of continuing past that one post. But then I got some ‘Likes’ and some comments that I hadn’t been expecting. So I posted #99, and I got some more positive feedback.
I continued posting my ‘lessons’ with a photo that I thought best explained the lesson in picture, and by the time my countdown got to #85 or so, I’d gotten so much positive feedback from my friends, as well as some Facebook friends that I rarely interact with, that I had no choice but to continue on.
Because so many of the lessons have been so well received, I thought there must be others out there that I’m not friends with who would also enjoy seeing/reading them.
And that is why I started this page… You’ll also find similar posts and content that I think will inspire you to be the best parent/person you can be. It’s not just for fathers. It’s not just for sons. It’s for anyone who wants to be moved to laughter or to tears, to be inspired or comforted. Mostly it’s a way for me to document my journey as a father.”
For me, it caught my attention because of its simplicity and honesty. I like that it is built around the idea that active and involved dads spend a lot of time thinking about what they will teach their kids, based on their own life experience.
I definitely relate to that. Here’s a prime example:
“❤ Top 100 Things I Can’t Wait to Teach My Son™ : #56 – Playing catch with dad is much more than throwing and catching, a ball and a glove.”
And a couple more of my favorites…
“❤ Top 100 Things I Can’t Wait to Teach My Son™ : #51 – If you must compare, compare yourself to the you of yesterday, not to anybody else.
❤ Top 100 Things I Can’t Wait to Teach My Son™ : #93 – We all have some sort of super powers, but we don’t all use them.”
Jack, something you will always know about me is that I thrive on teaching you about life and how the world works.
I’ll teach you everything I know, though I obviously know there are just some lessons you learn best on your own.