As I am awoken in the middle of the night by the screaming of my younger son for the 200+ night straight, I can’t hold back the choice words that spill out of my mouth into the darkness. I grumble as I stumble down the hallway to the bathroom, making a pit stop before heading into his bedroom, which will likely be my resting place for the rest of my life the night. As I pick him up out of his crib and settle into our recliner, he almost instantly falls back asleep, seemingly taunting me with the knowledge that “I may be asleep, but try to put me down and I will wake up the entire house.” So I resign myself to another night spent sleeping in a chair with a human space heater nestled on top of me in my arms.
I love my kids, I do. My older son is my pride and joy, and my younger son is quickly growing on me. I love waking them in the morning and tucking them in at night. I eagerly anticipate the joyous greetings I will receive when I walk in the door after work, little (and not so little) feet stampeding toward me with accompanying arms wide open. The funny things they say, the silly things they do, the mischievous way they test their limits and boundaries all the while looking to me to be there to pick them up and brush them off should they go too far. They find a way to make me smile even in my darkest moments, and I make it my goal each and every day to bring them as much joy as possible.
But the truth is, being a father is difficult. It is stressful. At times it can be depressing. The lack of quality sleep. The endless messes, and seemingly never decreasing mountain of laundry. Putting your kids needs and well-being ahead of your own. Placing your dreams and goals on hold as you look to give your children a successful and well-adjusted future. Shuttling (and paying for) your kids to this activity or this sport or this club. Days and weeks fly by as that to-do list grows longer and longer with no hope of ever getting anything completed.
I will be honest with you. I have moments where I wonder if having kids was the best choice for me (despite always wanting kids). I have had particularly dark and low moments where I fantasized about running off to an island somewhere and leaving the responsibility behind. I am left wondering if that makes me a terrible father and overall a terrible person, and if I am really doing the best job I can be doing for my boys if these are the thoughts I am having.
At the end of it all, though, I love my kids, and I cannot imagine my life without them. It is my responsibility to make sure they are raised to be strong, loving, compassionate men who someday will have kids of their own. More than that, though, I am honored to be a shining example for them, honored that my wife chose me to be the father of her children, honored by the love and trust they bestow on me.
Despite the stress, despite the frustrations, despite the angst that I am sure they will bring me during their teenage years, I love my kids with a fierceness I never imagined possible, and I am grateful for the blessing of every moment I get to spend being their dad.