I’m a Flawed Husband and Father

Pouty2

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.

 

Comments

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About Brad the Dad

Enjoy a unique, fresh and entertaining perspective on parenting as Brad the Dad learns what it takes to raise 2 boys in today's world. #DadsRT co-founder.

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Comments

  1. Eric says:

    Brad,

    Human nature suggests that anyone who has the propensity to look inward is always going to view themselves as “flawed”. This is not a bad thing. It is the ability to identify parental shortcomings and work to improve them that, ironically, makes you far from flawed. Just being able to see that tapping away on the laptop or smartphone while mom is making dinner may, in future instances, help prevent you from doing just that. Having to be asked to assist or to “put down the phone and help me!” may mean you just can’t see anything flawed about this habit.

    I work in Boston and am typically gone for 12 hours at a time, usually from 5.30 AM until 5.30 PM. Conversely, my wife works from home full time. She is there when the kids go to school, get home from school, while they’re doing homework (and needing assistance), when they have appointments with doctors and dentists…pretty much all the time, while I am not. As a flawed dad, it took me a while to realize that my commuter rail time to and from work and my 9 or 10 hours in the office was not the exhausting burden I was making it out to be, that I could be MUCH more involved when I walked in the door. And I’m not afraid to admit that even after being a father for 12 years now, there’s still a lot to learn.

    (Side note: I took February vacation week off to be with the kids while my wife went to work in the office. This week has included 3 dentist appointments, 2 orthodontists appointments, a haircut, a trip to get new shoes, hours spent on planet projects for school, along with a movie and a trip to an arcade. If I didn’t appreciate all that my wife did before, I certainly do appreciate it now. And I loved my week with the kids to boot.)

    • Thanks for sharing this excellent perspective, Eric. I too appreciate all that my wife does, but like you said, truly get a full taste of exactly all that she does when she is away for the weekend or I stay home with kid(s) when they are sick. Amazing women, these wives of ours are.

      As for the rest, yeah, it’s probably something of a blessing and a curse when looking inward at oneself. Good because then we can identify and improve, as you said, yet bad because it can lead to a pity party if not appropriately addressed with self.

      In a day and age where enjoying the moment with your family is more important than ever, I’m really trying to reduce the pity parties and appreciate how damn lucky I am.

  2. Anyone can be on the stage because we all have a story. We are here to learn from each others mistakes, failures, and successes. Even the “experts” don’t have it all figured out. A man without flaws cannot truly know what everyone else is thinking.

    • “A man without flaws cannot truly know what everyone else is thinking.”

      I like that. I like that a lot. Thanks for perspective.

  3. You are not “flawed”… you are human… And that is its own perfection.

    • Thank you, Synnove. Always appreciate your kind words and continued readership.

  4. James Hudyma says:

    I’d be proud to be in your audience. I think part of being a good dad is knowing your flaws or caring enough about fatherhood to even consider your flaws.

    • Thanks, James. I am truly glad that I’m able to consider my flaws, but like I said in a comment above, I have to stop myself from brooding over them because it’s more important than ever to enjoy each moment we have with our families. Now, more than ever.

      And you wouldn’t be in my audience, yet standing next to me on stage. #awkwardmanhug

  5. happiestdaddy says:

    Brad…beautifully written and explained as usual. Our desire to be the best dads we can be will be fraught with failures. But, in the end, it’s those who work to improve and change the perception of dads who will be successful.

    • That’s the ticket, bud. Working to improve and change to become the best dads we can be, with failures expected and accepted. My thing is, and kind of the point of this post, is I want to be doing this together with a group of dads and never by myself on a stage.

  6. Louis says:

    I just had a son, two weeks ago. When he was born, I expected to feel that overwhelming joy/love for him, but honestly, my only thought was ” That’s disgusting, he looks like a huge turd”… My son doesn’t look like me, he looks like his mother. My son doesn’t look AT me either, I haven’t been able to even make eye contact with him at all, because every time I try he looks away, cries, or closes his eyes. His mother breast feeds him, and he just loves her to death, cries whenever he is out of physical contact with her. I’ve done everything I can think of to do my part, bringing her snacks, changing him, burping him, etc… I know I should feel love and protectiveness for him, since he’s the fruit of my loins, but frankly all I feel is frustrated… Is there something wrong with me, or is this a normal part of the process?

    • Louis, thanks for sharing. I would say that nothing is wrong with you since I’ve been there and have also talked to many others who have been there. In reality, the infant stage sucks. Postpartum depression is often associated with moms but is in no way absent from dads. I felt it the strongest after the birth of my 2nd son. He was a volatile baby and I was having a hard time connecting with him. Add in the stress, lack of sleep, and general overwhelming nature of the infant stage and I was honestly all set with this kid for a solid chunk of time. I’d still do all the fatherly things I was supposed to do, but I’d be lying if I was to tell you I wasn’t happy when he went down for the night and didn’t punch the bed when he woke up in the middle of the night.

      So much of the early stages has to do with sleep. If you aren’t getting much sleep everything else is affected. Your frustrated feelings could be mostly coming from this lack of sleep. After that keep in mind that the stages are rapid fire at this age. Mommy is the favorite one week and daddy the favorite the next. I’d even guess that much has changed even since you posted your comment here.

      Basically – keep at it, nothing is wrong with you. There is no playbook for parenting and if there was there should be a chapter or five about the parts that suck that nobody really tells you about. Don’t shy from the baby because of his closeness with his mother. He knows who you are even though he prefers mommy right now and he needs to know you’re present and always will be. Maybe try being nearby/in contact while she is breastfeeding him. Just keep at it and don’t ignore the feelings you’re having, like this one. We are a website because we’ve all had such feelings, so you’re headed in the right direction by not ignoring/suppressing them.

      Stay in contact and let us know how things are going.

  7. Lewis Dow says:

    Hi Brad,

    I’m a struggling father as well. Sometimes, I second guess my fathering and husband skills as well. When I make mistakes or do not plan out things correctly, it greatly affects my wife’s life and children’s lives as well. My passion and pursuance to work and prepare for work is great, however, I lack to passion and effort to consider my wife/children, attend to their needs in thought and depth. It’s simple for my wife to give me a set or instructions or to ask me to do something for her or for the boys. It’s hard for me to figure out what to give them on my own. I never really considered or currently consider their needs for life. I am willing to change and willing to grow and mature in this area, however, I tend to get frustrated from my lack of effort, my wife’s comments, etc. After failing, I feel lost and full of anger. I don’t know what to do. Please provide your comment and suggestion.

    • Brad the Dad says:

      I appreciate how open and honest you are being with us and yourself in this comment, Lewis. For starters, that is something right there. It’s not like your being hard on yourself for working late or missing one of their games, you’re getting right to the heart of the matter and questioning your passion and effort to your wife/children as compared to your passion and pursuance to work. My first thought is that (and as hard on yourself as you are being, and whether you’re being too hard on yourself or not is not for me to say), you are being REAL with yourself. One doesn’t ask themselves such questions or admit such things publicly if they are trying to pull the wool over their own eyes. So, with that in mind, I would say in that least you are starting out on the right foot.

      After that I would try and take a look at why you behave this way. Was such work ethic passed down from your parents/guardians? How old are you? At 37 years old, what you describe is what I saw from my parents generation and such things would never have even been questioned back then. The men worked and the women ruled the nest back home. Thus, and as you described, it was the norm for the wife the be the “quarterback of the kids/home” and call the plays for the husband. “Honey, can you take outside and play while I get dinner ready? Or, can you clear the sink while I go throw a load of wash in?”

      Part of me feels like we are still in the middle of this transition from working dad and SAH mom to both parents working and ironing out the kinks. My wife and I experience this, and thus the reason for this post. She gets on me for my lack of giving them baths, taking both kids grocery shopping, preparing their lunches, backpacks, etc… But I come back with, “Well, I’m the first one out of the house in the morning before anyone is even up and I’m the last one home by 1+ hours.” I don’t even have the TIME to entertain many of the things she wishes of me. On top of that, I even wonder how many guys are even wired for such things? Sure I love playing with them and spending time with them, but I’d rather poke my eyes out then do baths or pack lunches.

      So same there as you where I beat myself for not having those passions. Like something is wrong with me for not wanting any part of baths or lunches. And like you, I’m willing to change.

      My wife and I had this talk (again) recently and it came down to the simple fact that she more time to herself. From waking to sleeping, she is either tethered to both kids, her job as a teacher, or myself 24/7. She is NEVER alone. So, it took this conversation for me to realize how special of a privilege it is when I come home from work and they are out grocery shopping and I get 30 mins to myself. Without this conversation I would have rolled my eyes at thinking this was some sort of special privilege, but upon getting her perspective, I realize it was.

      Basically, I’m realizing I don’t need beat myself for not doing baths, lunches, backpacks, etc… but on the flip side I need to recognize that taking both kids grocery shopping on the weekend and giving my wife an hour + to herself will probably do more than any daddy bath night could ever do.

      I think I went on a tangent there but I wanted to share with you similar frustrations I’m facing at my own lack of passion and effort with regards to my family.

      Here is my advice — keep trying. In the post above I say – “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.” And that’s really the heart of the matter for me. I’m still screwing up and making mistakes and making bad decisions a year later after writing this post, but I’m trying. I’m in the game.

      Your head is in the right place and you’re starting out on the right foot. Keep this perspective and keep trying and I believe you will be fine. Feel free to stay in touch with myself (bradmarmo@gmail.com) and the Dads Round Table crew at large as this is all we do. Talk things out with each other and try to figure what’s best for each individual and their families. On Twitter search using #DadsRT and on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/dadsroundtable.

      Hope this helped. Thanks for reading, commenting, sharing.

      • Rob says:

        I have read some of the comments on here, particularly this one, and it is great to not feel alone. This reply of yours is striking with me, because I feel like I have been trying, but it is possible too much damage has been done. I coach my son’s tee ball, I do his homework with him at night, and I do a host of other things that I feel are important. Yet, even with all that, I am told how I am failing my boys. I just don’t know what I am supposed to do. I have a similar situation where I leave for work later, have a longer commute, and nearly always get home later. Sometimes I work nights and weekends as well. My schedule is always all over the place, while her system is pretty regimented. I offer to help as much as I can. Sometimes, and especially lately as I am in the midst of a job change. I find my self more withdrawn, but I am still there. I am still putting them to bed at night, still trying to help, especially when prompted. I feel my issues stem from a long time of not trying to be there enough, and working too much to even consider it. Honestly, I think it is ok to admit that you are not the best dad or husband, and I really appreciate the notion “but at least you are trying.” I always tell myself and friends no matter how bad things get, keep fighting, keep trying to do better. It means a lot to not feel like I am alone in this fight. My family is everything to me, it just gets hard when I am repeatedly told how horrible I am. Makes me start to believe it, and just be resigned to feeling like I am just not built to be a good, responsible dad. What ever happened to being human? it being ok to not be perfect, to have ups and downs? I am pretty beat down anymore, but this was pretty uplifting. Thank you for sharing

  8. Kevin says:

    Its so great to find a site such as this. Thanks to all the Dads/Husbands that are contributing.

    Post Partum has hit hard…not my wife but me. Turns out 10% of men are this lucky. Maintaining a high profile job, maintaining 1.5 acres of land and a home ravaged by a brutal NE winter, and not having family on this side of the country has made this supposed-to-be-joyous 2 months pretty brutal.

    Prioritizing has helped; the lawn and yard can wait. But priorities of mine are not likely the same as my wife. So everyday brings new challenges.

    Anyways, thanks. And I look forward to more.

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