“Pick up the pillows. Get the pillows off the floor.” Of course, you must repeat yourself multiple times to complete a single task. This is what the Friday after the fantasy of Father’s Day looks like.
The children are not giving you homemade cards. Instead, they give you a headache with their screams and constant activity. You want to be patient, but it's hard when they are pressing you for attention while a deadline moves closer to the keyboard on your desk.
Yes, it's still Friday, and the children do not have school. Frustration escalates to anger as the day progresses and work delays.
They play with outdoor balls on the inside tile floors. You tell them to stop; they pause for a second. Moments later, you hear the ball hit the door.
“The children need discipline.” You can hear your mother’s voice in your head.
The day is not over yet. You're on duty because your job offers you the flexibility that your wife does not have.
The children’s curious minds are now trying to make sense of the world. You know this because random comments about God and sex fill in the downtime between power outages and access to electronics. They need you, and you are having a hard time stopping the work that helps pay the bills.
Now, you have several options to consider. You can fold under challenging circumstances by yelling at them into submission or take a moment to breathe and manage your emotions.
The easy route involves folding and complaining down a one-way street. You start by questioning the importance of your wife's work. Then you continue asking yourself why the dog is barking and adding to this cacophony of sounds and activity. All of your attention directs outward.
You go to the bathroom and then remember everything you accomplished for the day. Exercise happened before sunrise. You made some progress on a difficult assignment. The children are alive and not in the emergency room. This inward evaluation helps you to feel better about your situation.
It’s Friday and the work week is over. You can put most of your professional responsibilities away until Monday.
Your wife will appreciate the sacrifice you made to support her work. She’s made sacrifices without enough acknowledgment to support your career for years.
Although the children’s questions and comments are ridiculous, you have the opportunity to mold their minds. That’s a blessing.
I can speak to these fatherhood realities because this is my life. The children were out of school and in my care on Monday and Tuesday of this week. It took some space from parenting duties on Wednesday to help me gain perspective.
Last Sunday, we celebrated Father’s Day special. If you've experienced anything like what I did this week, you earned the extra piece of pie and another ugly necktie! Being a father comes with responsibilities that extend beyond the holidays.
We must use every day to pour love, discipline, and empathy into our children. There will be times when the load seems too much, but we can’t quit and ignore the work required to improve as men, fathers, and loving partners.
This weekend, spend a minimum of one hour of undistracted time with your family. They need you.
For more tips to help with fatherhood, pick up my book, Dear Brother.