That was a text I sent my wife a couple weeks ago while she was working an evening shift. I was home with the two kids, and let’s just say they hate sleep. It was a struggle bus that night to get them to sleep. I started out being patient and nurturing and ended the evening cussing under my breath and banging my head against the wall. It didn’t matter what I tried, they wouldn’t sleep and just wanted mom.
It’s in my weakest, most exhausted moments that I let out some funny colors. If I didn’t have grace or patience, I could understand why some kids get shaken. Now before you judge me, I guarantee that nearly every dad has, deep in their thoughts, had some ugly moments. Most of us don’t act on them, but I at least understand how, when lacking balance and faith, someone could make a poor decision. I never would. But I am less quick to judge those that have.
But hear this: give yourself grace. We aren’t designed to be the nurturing, breast-feeding, life giving person to an infant or toddler. They just want mommy. We are often times simply the provider and nothing else.
In those times of weakness, those aren’t our true colors that surface. Just some colors of sin and lack of patience. It’s just a season and it goes by quickly. But before you get down on yourself for having some quite terrible thoughts, remember we aren’t alone. Sometimes I just have to set the kids down and let them wale while I calm down before trying again.
Same goes for older kids. Be quick to love, slow to anger and yelling. We know it does no good, but if that is the tone we are setting, we probably should change something. Give yourself grace as you figure these seasons out!
Monroe has started saying “daddy, stop your phone!”
We noticed several months ago that she was starting to develop some attitude struggles. She would melt down quicker. Her tantrums were getting louder.
We used to let her watch shows on our phones and the TV when we were busy or driving or she was sick. It was the easy remedy so we could get some things done.
Finally one day we agreed that the TV and phone was nuking her development, communication, social and many other skills. We went cold turkey. No more tv or phone for 3 weeks. We thought it was gonna be brutal. Within 2 days she figured out the new routine and has been a gem every since (going on 3 months now). If you aren’t doing this, you are doing a massive disservice to your kids, and to yourself. We are shooting ourselves in the foot. Taking the easy road with colossal consequences, rather than the hard road with fantastic rewards for the kids.
I work from home sometimes so naturally I’m often on the computer or phone. It’s so easy to just give my daughter an iPad so I can work or do chores. But I need to practice what I preach. If she can’t have my phone, I don’t need to be on it, at least in front of her. Usually when she says “stop your phone”, it’s because she wants to spend time with me and have my attention. I now put it away immediately. I removed social media save for IG since I’m rarely on it, simply to eliminate the desire to be on the phone all the time. Everyone is happier, healthier, more obedient and I am doing what is right for my kids.
Please join me. No more phones and TV for kids, and no more phone staring for us dads when the kids want to spent time with us. In 10 years, I absolutely guarantee we will wish we had if we don’t now.
It is so incredibly important to teach our children our failures. They need to know we are human and mortal. They have to see that we too need grace and forgiveness.
It is also important that they see the good that comes from mistakes. That we learn, we grow, we get better… In 2013 I guided a summit trip up Rainier. Due to scheduling with the group we had to make a blitz speed summit attempt. We pushed really hard, really fast. By 12k feet my body decided it hated the lack of acclimatization. It nearly shut down. But a guy in our group had never summited. That was my only goal. After a brutally long night, we made it to the crater.
I stopped there while the others continued to the highest point. I laid there wanting to throw up or die. I couldn’t move. I considered it an absolute failure on a personal level.
But really my goal was to get the others to the top and back safely. Which I did. What I thought was a failure actually was a victory for our group. I felt pretty humiliated, but once I came to I realized that the objective was made. It really wasn’t about me at all, but the team. Not one of us was strong enough to solo, but as a team, we made it.
This is similar to our family. When one of us fails, we admit it and allow the others to pick us up and keep going. Our failures are a perfect opportunity to teach our kids. Those failures are lessons too important to keep from them. If they are afraid to fail, we have misled them. We need to fail so that we can learn from our mistakes and get better.
“What you make (or create) isn’t supposed to be the best part of you. Being a father is.” Last night I watched the new Steve Jobs movie with my good bud @bryanreynolds. As an Apple fanboy, it really was an eye-opening film. The quote above was spoken by Kate Winslet’s character to Jobs after he spent 19 years completely neglecting his daughter emotionally. Yet he helped build one of the greatest companies in the world. Most of us remember him for that, but those closest to him were practically destroyed by him.
It doesn’t matter how successful you or your business becomes if you break those that are closest to you. No amount of success or money or fame or accomplishment will bring us joy if we crush those that care about us most. We need to carry on with absolute grace and gentleness. We can’t get to true greatness without our family. Let them be your greatest accomplishment, not your worst.
Make an effort to do something new this weekend with your kids. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new together. Even if your kids are adults. It’s easy to fall into the typical weekend routine. But what a great opportunity to try something new. Find those teachable moments. And also, just listen. Let your kids speak and hear what they have to say. Ask some deep and tough questions. Our daughter is two and I love asking her opinion on deep philosophical issues. I actually learn quite a bit. This is your weekend challenge. Let me know what you guys are up to, and share some stories of the crazy things you did or the funny stuff your kids said.
Last night I posted some thoughts I’ve recently had about patience. It’s still on my mind because I know that subject relates to so many dads.
Before our kids were born, I had so many ambitions and dreams of what I wanted to do. But when our daughter was born, something changed drastically. I knew that all I wanted to be was a dad. Since then I have given up a lot of things, simply so I could be with kids more. I rarely get out on adventures. I make a lot less money than I used to. I’ve sold off toys and gadgets and shelved hobbies. My career path has for the better part of 3 years been a little scattered.
Oh but how rich our family time is. I’m home often, heading to the zoo rather than the office. Even this morning I planned to leave the house by 730 but our family breakfast time was too good to leave. I choose this moment over burning a few calories at the gym and crushing some emails. I’ll get to them, but not until after these memories are made and my kids know they are valued more than clients. My kids don’t care how many toys they have and how big the house is. They’d rather eat ramen then steak. All they care about is when is mommy and daddy coming home from work so we can play. If your kids stop getting excited when I get home, I have royally hosed up. Why bust my tail my whole life so they can have a good life, when all they want is time with you?
It is kind of like skiing. All this anticipation of shredding and when you get there you have to sit on a chair and wait, freezing your berries. But then we summit and start flying. Then we have to sit on another chair for a different length of time. It all comes in seasons.
God knows our passion and visions, and he won’t forget about them. But in this season, no matter how old the kids are, they, and my wife, must remain priority over my own ambitions.
I was thinking about the word patience on the way to Seattle this am. I have found myself so impatient many times with my kids. Always wanting them to hurry up, eat faster, quit Lallygagging… I quickly forget that each second they are developing and learning something new. Yet I always want to rush it. So I was trying to figure out why I get so impatient.
I realized that I have all these plans and goals and work to do; many tasks vying for my attention. But then I realized that in this exact season, all those things need to wait. All those dreams and passions need to be put on hold, because there is something much more important at stake. They aren’t dead, just on pause. They are hung on the rack for a moment. I need to be in the moment during every moment for my kids right now as they are developing.
It won’t always be that way, but right now it needs to be. Eventually they will be off to school and I’ll have the time and rest to pursue those things. But right now, I need to enjoy every single moment.
I saw a guy complaining on FB the other day about the monotony of bedtime routine. Many dads would agree. Sometimes that routine lasts 4 hours in our family from dinner to zzzz’s. So I took steps to make it more enjoyable. Deleted apps off my phone (twit, FB) that would call for my attention, found a book that we all could enjoy reading, and told myself to chill. For those that can’t miss their show, just hit the record button. There is nothing else that needs my attention. Everything can wait, and I need to simply be patient. It didn’t take long for me to learn to love this season, bed-time routine and all!
I saw this really cool video yesterday about the life of @jeremycowart, a legendary photographer of our time. He talked about the legacy we leave our children. That some day, our kids will be able to google every tweet, see every photo posted, and hear our digital voice.
Since our daughter Monroe (2.5) was born, I have kept a daily journal of our family shenanigans. Basically a daily log, some memories, and a chance to write how I am feeling or the things that are on my mind.
I come from a family of photographers, so my history is flooded with photo memories of our entire lives. But the one thing missing is the voice. I have an epic collection of slides from my grandfather’s meanderings, but I would love to have a journal to hear the stories.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your genealogy, where you came from, who went before you, and what you leave behind. Find a creative way for you to share what you have learned with your kids. Write a book, journal, story tell in podcasts, make vlogs… Do something that will last so that your kids can see who you really are, and so they can hold on to those lessons and fall back on them when they get stuck.
How do you preserve your legacy? We’d love to hear your ideas!
To all the dads! It’s been on my heart lately to share some of my failures and triumphs as a dad with fellow dads. Fatherhood has been an incredible season. And I have learned so much. But my oldest is just under 3, so I’m no pro. This is simply my heart and experiences as they happen.
Thanks for joining in this journey. Let this be a two way street. I want to hear your thoughts, dreams, failures, encouragement for other dads… It takes a village of dudes banded together to figure this thing out. Much love.