There are days being a father when I feel so in love and on top of the world with my new family, where I feel that my family life is just so perfect. And then there are days when I feel annoyed, angry, frustrated or stressed about my wife, my kid and how I’m dealing with it all, and I have to muster up the patience, calmness and strength from deep within to keep going.
Facing some of the realities of being a father
I think this is normal for life as a new dad and as a new parent, being a father. Actually, I think it’ll be a natural part of life moving forward as a parent in general…
And I think that’s normal.
While this is kind of awkward to write about, I don’t want to sugarcoat the reality of fatherhood and family life. These feelings are real, and they do happen for all of us.
I guess that’s the new truth I am discovering and living out. That there are immense joys being a father and having a family. Yet there are also uncomfortable struggles and challenges too.
Actually, I think this is all part of having a relationship with anyone, but it is deeper and the experience is more heightened in a family situation, since you live with your spouse and kids and spend time with them everyday.
Not to mention the fact that with a child, they depend very much on you to take care of them, and that takes a lot of time, energy and attention. By living and spending time with your wife and children though, you develop a more intimate relationship and a deeper connection – which is both very rewarding and challenging (helping you to grow!).
1) On the rollercoaster of emotions in family
One uncomfortable challenge I’ve had to deal with is when your wife or child is crazy angry or upset. Sometimes you question whether they’re angry or upset at you, but I’ve actually found that is not the case many times. They may actually just expressing their emotions of anger and you just happen to be there, so I’ve had to learn to be patient and understanding, which can be uncomfortable at first.
Also, I’ve realized that most of the time, my job is actually not to fix anything, but simply just to listen and empathize. More and more, I’m having to acknowledge their feelings and respect them, whether good or bad, and try to understand their point of view (even the point of view of my child).
When it comes to understanding the point of view of a baby, though, who hasn’t even reached 1 years old, it is often really tough!! But I think I have become a more aware person since I’ve tried and learned to do it.
2) On selfishness and wanting to do your own thing
Another struggle you may face too as a new dad or parent is that there are times when you want to do your own thing, but you can’t. For example, there’s something that I want to watch on TV or there’s some work or project or hobby that I want to do, but I have to take a pause, stop what I’m doing because my child needs me, whether it’s to change her diaper, feed her or play with her and comfort her if she has a toothache.
I’ve had to learn to be flexible with my time, and even though I may be engrossed in something else, I’ve had to prioritize my family and child above those other things, because those other things can wait, and I’m really trying hard to put my family and child up there as a priority in my life.
3) On recognizing your own faults
And of course, I know I have been annoying, angry, frustrating and really hard to be around from time to time myself. There are times when I’ve acted selfish.
I admit it, and I know that I’m not perfect, and I get emotional and irrational at times too, and probably my wife and kid want to throw something at me!
By having a family, I’ve had to take more responsibility, not only for my wife and child, but also of myself, my thoughts and my emotions, and what I have and who I am. In doing so, I think it makes me a better person, because I recognize my flaws, and I try and improve on them as much as I can every day.
African wisdom for dads today
Early in my twenties, my wife told me this African quote, and it took a while for it to sink in. I really didn’t understand it a first, and actually disregarded it initially.
Though, over the years it has meant more and more to me, and has evolved it’s meaning in my life as I have experienced having a girlfriend, fiancee, then wife, and then my first child, becoming a father.
The quote is this:
“You can go faster if you do things alone, but you will go further if you do them with others.”
Of course, I may be paraphrasing the actual African quote, but that’s the basic gist of the mantra that runs through my head and my heart.
Regardless of the fact that there are immense ups and downs that you will experience being a dad and having a family, I truly believe that these experiences are to be treasured and authentically enhance your quality and experience of human life, and love.
Sharing Both the Good and Bad Experiences with the Ones You Love
Living life to the fullest includes sharing certain experiences of our lives with others. When good thing happen to us, we want to share them with someone else because the sharing magnifies the joy these good events have brought to our life.
On the other hand, when something bad happens to us, we also want to share it with someone else, but in this case, the sharing helps ease the pain and suffering.
So, I’ve come to realize, now having a wife and child, that life really is all about sharing experiences with the ones you love, be it good and bad, and awkward and uncomfortable, experiences.
And even when I feel sad or upset or angry, it’s important that I share how I feel too, which I have had to learn more and more how to do, as it didn’t come naturally to me growing up, and which I wasn’t taught how to do in school.
More and more, I have come to understand that my emotional fulfilment in my family life comes not from being independent, but by being interdependent with the ones with whom I love and am loved.
I love my wife and child so much.
The ups and downs are all part of it, and every part, even the tough times, are to be treasured.
It all adds to the rich tapestry of your life.