I grew up with a dedicated father and I know what a gift that is. He miraculously figured out how to “dad” well, even though he only met his own father once and had no example to follow. And of course he isn’t a perfect father (as no man is) but he is a great one.
I know how he coached almost every team I played on and how he was present at each important event in my life. I know he thinks I’m smart and that I should probably run the country (or at least whatever place I work at) and how he thinks I never hustled enough on the field. I know he protected me, made sure I wasn’t lazy and made me laugh with dumb songs he made up. And I know that he taught me what he knew about God and how to live life well.
I don’t know about all the things he sacrificed, all the ways he hurt or how many hard decisions he made. I don’t know every challenge he had to overcome or each dream he set aside for us. As kids looking up to our dad, we don’t see all the pieces to the puzzle.
It’s a different experience to watch fatherhood from the seat of motherhood. My husband and I are working out our parenthood side by side and so I get a front row seat. I get to share in his thoughts and fears, defeats and delights and I see what goes into each day of being a dad.Watching Brian work through the stunningly big job of being a dad has taught me more about fatherhood than I’ve ever known. As we talk through the struggles, I have discovered that the single biggest challenge of fatherhood is to find balance.
How much does he work to provide well and contribute to the world with his career, yet be home to support and enjoy me and our kids? How can he have high expectations but also make home a safe place to fail? How much time is okay to take away from us to nurture his own health and hobbies? How much does he teach vs. how much should they discover? How does he give our kids both firm discipline and tender understanding? How much protection? How much freedom? How does he give them both roots and wings?
Balance means to “keep or put something in a steady position so that it does not fall” or to “offset the value of one thing with another.” There are plenty of dads out there that just can’t figure out how to do that in life and the effects on kids can be rough. Finding balance everyday as a dad is a huge challenge. For every thing/person that gets his attention, another one is not. And dad’s attention is a very valuable commodity.
But for every dad that is showing up, being teachable, expressing love, establishing priorities, trying again when he fails, asking God for wisdom and finding ways to achieve some balance- I salute you.
As you honor the fathers in your life today, tell them that you see it. That you recognize there are 30 million things a great father should do- and that how they manage to figure out how much of this and how much of that is a beautiful thing.