It’s hard to be a dad these days. I don’t say that as in the basic concepts of fatherhood are overly difficult: play catch, change diapers, give baths, etc. These are all simple tasks that most men with children can do.
When I say fatherhood is difficult, I’m saying such in the sense that our 21st century world has turned fatherhood into. And it’s not so much that fatherhood is viewed negatively, it’s that it is viewed as a secondary priority.
Too many dads today are consumed with their careers, chasing every last sale, every potential client, every perfection possible to eliminate any negative perception from their corporate peers.
For new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, this turned into chasing every win, every recruit, and every new angle to prepare for an upcoming opponent.
While at Florida, Meyer worked recklessly at his job, one that certainly brought him glory in the form of a National Championship and million dollar contracts. However, the stress he faced at his job caused serious physical problems, such that he eventually had to step down.
When Meyer sat down with his family last year to discuss his desire to take the head coaching job at Ohio State, his family showed full support. They did, however, have one request: Urban Meyer had to sign a family contract.
That’s right. A contract from his own family, one in which he agrees to the following: eating three square meals a day, turning his cell phone off while at church and during dinner at home, and making it to as many of his daughter’s volleyball games as possible (she plays for Georgia Tech, and he made it to basically none of her games while coaching at Florida).
Meyer called it one of the toughest contracts his ever had to sign. In a cut throat business like college football, he’s probably right. Basically he has committed certain parts of each day and week to not be involved with his job.
This all makes me wonder, how many of us men need to sit down with our families and write out a contract? Are we neglecting our wives needs? Do we give them conversation daily after the exhaustion of taking care of kids is done? How about our sons and daughters? Are we there, spending time with them?
The value of fatherhood is priceless. The world is telling us that our value is in our career, our portfolio, our bank account, our sales records, our corporate relationships, our bronzed accolades, and our dedication to the 40 plus hour week at work we put in.
Why is that how we are defined? Why is it not our loving, loyal, compassionate wives? Why is our value not seen in playing catch with our sons and dress-up tea parties with our girls?
Today, for the first Saturday in three and a half months, I took off to spend time with my family. I got to run through water fountains with Brooklyn, build a tower with blocks with Macy, and spend some genuine time in conversation with my wife.
Days like today make me really feel like a dad.
I’m not the perfect dad. I screw up a lot. But I’m seeing more and more the need for myself (and other dads) to get home, get relaxed, get work off their mind, and just be a dad. Piggy back rides and snuggles. Toy trains and blocks. Baby strollers and blankets. Popsicles and tickle monsters.
Maybe one day when us men are asked the question “What do you do for a living?”, rather than reply with some puffed-up prestigious title from so-and-so corporation, we’ll respond with “For a living, I love my wife and children with all of my heart”.
Because really, beyond that, everything else is low priority.