It wasn’t long ago that I became a dad. In fact, I can still remember the nights we used to be sitting on the couch watching TV and we’d get a spontaneous urge to jump in our car and head to the nearest Taco Bell for a little fourth meal. We didn’t think twice about it. Now, less than 4 years later, pretty much every decision I make throughout my day somehow affects the two little precious munchkins we have running around at our feet constantly.
From Dude to Dad
Whether directly, or indirectly, nearly everything we, as dads, decide to do (or not do) impacts our families. If we’re not careful, it can become burdensome, even paralyzing at times, but man oh man, I wouldn’t change it for the world! Are there times I miss the freedom and stress-free living that came before fatherhood? Of course! But if you told me I could have that back in exchange for the frustrations, arguments, temper-tantrums, and full-on brawls that most people call “bedtime” I would have to say “no”.
Those of you who are dads get it. Becoming a dad changes you. It’s hard. It’s trying. It’s straight-up exhausting most of the time, but those moments of genuine connection…those moments of true love and joy; when you feel something inside that no other sporting event, fast car, or power tool can come close to making you feel, you know that there is no way you’d ever go back to how it was before those precious eyes first locked with yours! Am I right!? It’s like you’re not quite the same man you used to be, but you don’t care, because you know that every ounce of differentness inside of you is for the better. While those times of tantrums, from a child that one moment is a perfect angel and the very next moment has you about ready to rebuke satan and cast a demon out of them, often make us want to punch a hole in something, those feelings quickly fade with the simplest kiss on the cheek or an unexpected “I wuv u daddy”. There truly is nothing like it!
The Pressure to Provide
Now don’t get me wrong, my kids are still young, so I still have a LOOOOOT to learn and experience yet as a dad, but even just in these first few years, I already have this heightened pressure to provide anything and everything for these helpless little humans. I’m not talking just about providing financially, I mean all the other stuff. I’m talking about all the important life lessons I need to teach them before they’re grown and I missed my window of opportunity.
All the deep spiritual answers I need to have for them as they grow and develop their own relationship with Jesus.
All the other tough questions that I have to act like I know the answers to when I’m just as clueless as they are.
All the time I need to constantly and consistently juggle to ensure I’m giving QUALITY time to each of them without forgetting my wife and friends and work and that little thing called sleep!
All the tea parties, long-winded conversations, and emotional connections that a little girl expects and needs.
Ok, this is getting overwhelming! Ah, the pressure!
Breathe, Mager, breathe…1, 2, 3, 4…Ok!
God’s got us. We don’t have to do this thing on our own. As we lean into Him, He is the one who provides. He is our provider. As our Heavenly Father, He provides strength, courage, and wisdom for us, allowing us to then be able to provide for our families!
One step at a time. That’s all we can do. We can choose to fill our minds with thoughts of worry, anxiety, and fear, or we can choose peace, confidence, and trust in the Lord. It’s a choice. I’m not saying I never have a thought about my kids getting bullied or kidnapped or other catastrophes, but I do have a choice. We can choose to not let those thoughts linger. We can choose what we magnify. Imagine that you’re holding a magnifying glass and looking at your thoughts. You get to choose where you point that magnifying glass and which thoughts you want to make bigger than the others. It’s not always easy and I’m sure it will be a continual battle (especially as they grow up and start doing crazy teenager things and go off to college and all that stuff that I’d rather not think about just yet), but if we can come back to the basics and take it one step at a time, we can totally do this “dad” thing. After all, we might have thousands of job titles in our life, but the only titles that will remain when we die are “Husband” and “Father”.
Like I said earlier, I’m only a few years into this process, but one step I started sometime last year is “Daddy Dates”. It’s simple for now, but it has been amazing for both of my kids as well as me! I highly recommend it; here’s how it works (feel free to steal it):
- Pick one child (preferably one of your own).
- Think of his/her date of birth.
- Take him/her out each month on a “date” on his/her date of birth.
- Repeat with each child.
For example, my oldest was born on October 23rd, so on the 23rd of every single month I (try to) take her out somewhere, just me and her. Similarly, my youngest was born on August 7th, so on the 7th of every month, it’s just me and him, out and about.
It doesn’t have to be (and for us, it often isn’t) anything extravagant. I think more often than not, we just end up at McDonald’s or some other fast food joint, but the key is that we are together and they have my undivided attention. As they get older, I’m sure we’ll throw in many U of M games (Go Blue!), trips to the zoo, and other fun things that they want to do, but again the key here is the quality time. In a culture where so much of what we do is through a digital screen, it can be easy to go days, weeks, or longer without having a true connection with others. This is just the first of many possible baby steps that we can take as dads to shift our priorities and fulfill our God-given role as a provider, leader, and protector for our families. Won’t you join me?
What Do You Do?
How are you guys leading your families! What types of baby steps have you been taking, or do you plan to take, with your kids? Let’s share some ideas in the comments below so we can all build off of each other! I’d love to hear more ways that I can connect with my little ones in creative ways! Whatchya got?!?