It all started a few weeks ago as I followed the happenings of a dad summit that some of my fellow dads were attending. It all started out innocent enough, but at some point the whole thing flipped on its head for me and I started asking myself, “Who exactly are these presenters and why should we be listening to them?” That’s when it all started to go wrong.
I couldn’t get the image out of my head of this one dad standing up on stage, casually dressed and looking sharp in his Gap attire with a hands-free microphone attached to his ear, about to drop some knowledge on his audience. I couldn’t help but think how unqualified I was to be standing in his position. The real problem was though, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking if the guy on stage was qualified either.
I didn’t stick around to hear his message; I didn’t want to.
While I’m very proud to be on the ground floor of this movement, the whole “involved dad” thing is still very new for all of us. We don’t even know what we don’t know yet. Instead of working late, a second job, or hitting the bar afterwards, myself and countless other dads are now home before dinner and/or staying home full-time. Do we really know, at this point in time, the effect this is having on the family unit? I, for one, am impatient and tend to raise my voice too quickly when the boys get out of control. I have no doubt in my mind that more often than not I escalate a situation beyond the point it would have stopped if I wasn’t involved. When our 5-year-old loudly reprimands our 2-year-old for touching one of his toys, the feeling I get knowing he is mimicking me is a low one.
I’m a flawed father.
I’ve started asking myself how can I stand tall over the stereotypes of yore as I tap away on my smartphone while my wife cooks dinner? Should I change my profile image to a black and white of myself napping on the couch on Saturday morning after popping in a DVD to quiet the boys? Or should I display our latest professional family picture to the world without disclosing the fact we were just fighting in the parking lot minutes earlier?
I’m a flawed husband.
The reason why that dad on stage at the summit found his way into the inner recesses of my head is because if all goes according to plan, that could be me. I’m not in this to be in the audience, I’m in this to be the one on stage. But as you can tell from what I revealed above, I honestly don’t feel that I’m stage worthy at this point and simply don’t feel it’s my place to tell other dads what’s up when I’m still trying to figure that out myself.
The reality is that we have new challenges that the fathers who came before us never faced. Rapidly advancing technology, on-demand everything, social media stress and expectations, a less engaged and apathetic society, religious fatigue and distrust, loss of pride in country, and so forth and so on.
Factor in all of these new challenges together with the learning curve we are currently living in as the lead pack of involved dads, and I’m just not ready to put myself up on that proverbial stage. I feel comfortable being part of something like the Dads Round Table, where a group of us all share our thoughts, challenges, and experiences while working together to improve, but beyond that I’m just not ready.
The only thing I know for sure about myself as a dad is that I’m trying. Sometimes I’m not even sure I’m trying my best, but I know I’m always trying.
The reason I’m expressing these feelings is because it’s important to me that my readers know who they are reading. I don’t have it all figured out, and any advice I give or present is only based on what my parents taught me and my own common sense approach to the world in front of me.
I would like to thank all of you for sticking around as long as you have and look forward to the day, that together with your help and feedback, I might be able to declare myself stage worthy.