This will probably come as a surprise, but being a dad isn’t always fun.
I know it’s Father’s Day, and we’re supposed to celebrate everything wonderful and lovey-dovey about raising children. The truth is it’s an exhausting job that involves doing many things you don’t like doing.
The worst part is sometimes your kids think you actually enjoy this stuff. It’s even more challenging when you have daughters and relatively little in common, other than last names.
For instance, my daughters think I love driving them around. Maybe it’s heading off to a sports practice, dance rehearsal or club meeting. Wherever they need to go, they assume I’m a cheery limo driver, ready to don my cap and smile at the folks in the back seat.
The reality is I spend those minutes zipping back and forth across town wondering how many minutes I’ve spent sitting waiting for people to finish their activities. I question why it’s bad parenting if I arrive a minute or two late, yet it’s not bad leadership when they get out.
My girls also think I savor helping them with their homework. They don’t understand that homework bored me when I was their age, so it’s certainly no thrill to look at it now that I’m 20-plus years out of school.
They also don’t get that everything’s taught differently now, as I learned when I tried to explain “borrowing” to my children, who learned how to “regroup.” They’ve discovered whole new oceans and eliminated planets since I learned that stuff.
They think I enjoy buying them stuff. I’m notably tight-fisted, so I don’t usually see the difference between the name-brand and the knock-off clothes. Their definition of “need” and mine seldom overlap.
Most of all, they don’t understand how much I hate helping them groom. The entire nighttime routine of baths, brushing hair and getting ready for bed is exhausting and tedious. I know it’s necessary, as I know how to take care of myself. But I know relatively little about styling hair, something they love to tease me about when their mom’s not around.
There are other dad duties that just stink. I don’t like killing spiders or bugs any more than they do. I’m not wild about the abuse I get when I can’t perfectly drop a softball into their tiny strike zones. I don’t like being brought in as the “bad cop” when they need a deep voice to get their attention and change their evil ways.
I often remind my daughters that sometimes you have to do things you don’t like so you can do the things you do like.
And that’s where their perceptions of me aren’t so far off.
I do like going fishing with them, even if I spend more time baiting their hooks than casting mine.
I do like joking around with them, sometimes resorting to tickling so I can get that wonderful three-part harmony of three daughters giggling at the same time.
I do like playing games with them, reliving parts of my childhood via a game of Uno, Monopoly or tag in the backyard.
Most of all, I do like my children. They’re sweet, thoughtful creatures. They’re mischievous, sneaky brats. They’re creative, funny souls.
That’s why you do the things you don’t love so much, so you can really enjoy all those other times with them. Every day is Father’s Day when you get that kind of joy in your life. That is fun.
They are and always will be the most impressive thing I’ve ever touched in my life.