I’ve started to see the advertisements/memes show up online and, every year, it makes me think about the day itself. I still remember when I found out we’d be having a son. The thought was so intimidating. I talk to guys with daughters and, yes, they have their own set of stuff to deal with. Having a son, though, that was big.
That was an existential crisis.
Not just carrying on the family line, but having a copy of you, a young man to try to mold into the man you want him to be. Carter came along on a warm night in August 2008 and our lives changed forever.
He turns ten in August and there’s a few things a decade of fatherhood has revealed.
- Dad is not perfect. For every Hallmark moment there are a dozen that you go to bed praying you don’t repeat the following day.
- Dad takes work. If you slack, it impacts the entire family. You need to be a mix of servant and leader, and if that seems scary you are right, it is.
- Dad means learning to improvise. Maybe work was hard, the project wasn’t finished and you are on your 50th hour of the week by Thursday afternoon. Still you have kids waiting for your attention when you get home. Maybe it means a playground trip or getting a pizza. Be creative, it will take the edge off.
The hardest lesson, and the thing I feel like God has been working through recently, is that we learn in loss.
We learn in dealing with our kids and their emotions in the hard stuff of life. We face down the bullies, the mean kids, the ones who find a need to break hearts.
Carter’s passion is baseball (he plays on a tournament and a travel team). This had led to valuable lessons on adversity, victory, and defeat. Kids need to learn how to lose, that it is not all about them and they are a part of a team. They need to learn empathy and, as they do, we do as well.
There are moments when you’re tired. The last button is pushed, you’ve separated the last fight between siblings. You are face to face, loud, emotional and tears are shed. You walk away. All the old ghosts appear and you question your competency in the first place. Shouldn’t they have a license or something for this?
Then before bed they walk over to you and say “I’m sorry daddy. I love you.” And they hug you and your heart breaks and mends in one moment.
That’s the lesson of Father’s Day. It isn’t the picture perfect dads that have it all together. It is making magic out of the mess, it is forgiveness and love and grace when you feel like you don’t deserve it.
It is when they teach you about yourself and you grow.