My Father’s Day was really, really great. I spent the afternoon at Angel’s Stadium watching the Royals for a full nine innings with my parents, my wife, and my children. And the Royals won the ball game, which was icing on the cake.
As I sat there with my dad and my kids, I couldn’t help but reflect on fatherhood. I thought about the things my dad taught me as a kid. Inconsequential – but important – things like how to throw a baseball, how to ride a bike, how to grill a hamburger. And the more consequential – but less concrete – lessons like how to be a gentleman (my mom never had to open a door, pump gas, or pull out her chair when my father was around), how to provide for your family, and how to lead by example.
My thoughts turned to my own role as father and the things of consequence my children are learning from me. I think the gentleman thing is just ingrained in me from watching how my father treated my mother every day. I hope my son picks that up from me, too, and I hope there’s no doubt in my daughter’s mind about what she can and should expect from any man who desires her affections.
But I sometimes struggle with feelings of inadequacy in providing for my family, financially and emotionally. I know my shortcomings and so I know what more I could be doing. And I also have doubts about the example I’m setting. Sometimes it’s good, if not great. But at other times it leaves a lot to be desired. Occasionally I demonstrate the exact behaviors I am trying to help my children outgrow and overcome. Ugh!
It’s not that my father was perfect with me. He wasn’t. He’s human, after all. And although I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I know I don’t have to be flawless to be a good father. But I’m not always clear whether I’m taking two steps forward for every one back, or if it’s the other way around. And the direction I’m going matters. There are two precious lives depending on me getting this right. Three if you count their mother – and I do!
Being a father is the most important work I’ve ever done. And yes, it is work. There’s no time off and no timecard to punch out with. I know I don’t have to be perfect, but I do owe it to all of them to them to bring my A game. I have to reconcile that with the fact that I’m not always going to be that man; the MVP I want to be. And I know sometimes I’m not even going to be junior varsity-worthy. I suppose there’s value in showing them you can fall short, fail even, but not let that knock you out of the game. That I can do. I only hope that when my kids look back on what they learned from me, it’s more than just that.