I’ve got a little something different for all you readers today…I am proud to introduce one of our new guest bloggers, Jason Enders.
Jason and I met a few months ago at a speaking event I did at Morning Star Church. Jason approached me about being a guest blogger. He has been working on the below post. I have to say, it really hits home. Jason, thanks for taking the time to put this together. Check out his article below
Hello fellow Good Dad Project readers. Thanks for investing your time in my thoughts on fatherhood. I’m glad you’re here because you realize the importance of this community of Dads. Chances are you’re visiting here most likely because you have committed to being a Good Dad, or because you know one. Before completely committing to reading this, I need to throw you a few disclaimers.
- I am no parenthood expert. Just like you, I am learning the ropes of parenthood from day-to-day experiences trying to get better at this privilege of being a Dad.
- I am a Dad to my daughter, Sara (5 years), and to my son, Jude (3 years), and a husband to my wife, Shelly. They are my favorite, yet toughest teachers in Dad Skills 101. They willingly let me experiment daily on how to be the best Dad possible.
- I am regularly inside my own Dad head wondering “Am I good enough?” at this whole Dad thing. “Am I good enough, am I smart enough, do my kids even like me?” Sound familiar?
Hopefully you are still reading.
I would also bet that I’m probably similar to you. I am vulnerable and openly admit that I want it all… I want:
- To be a Good Dad & Husband
- To have a fulfilling career and perform well at work
- To give my family what they need, and want, and even more if possible
- To take care of myself and to be happy
- To do all this flawlessly and without worry in the 24 hours of a given day awhile completing my to-do list, getting a good night’s sleep, eating all my fruits & veggies, and keeping everyone who possibly needs me happy (if not extremely satisfied)
Talk about a challenge. I think I’ve set myself up for epic failure. As if just being alive isn’t challenging enough, right? I’m still new at all this. But after five years, maybe I’ve earned some street credibility after riding the teeter-totter of work-life balance. At least I think I might have earned a Good Dad badge by now.
Brief moments to ourselves give us Dads the chance to clear our heads of all the garbage we internalize. Maybe it’s not even brief moments, but simply disconnecting from everything that competes for our time. I had a profound moment of realization not so long ago while running. I‘ve enjoyed long-distance running for over 10 years now. What used to be an indulgence before fatherhood has become a way to maintain my sanity and stay fit, as well as a way to spend time with my family.
On this particular day, I had Sara and Jude with in our “double-wide” running stroller. Don’t judge, I know there are preconceived notions out there about these sets of wheels. It’s like moving day just to get the three of us out of the house and on the sidewalk moving. Seriously, packing snacks, water, books, and half the house into the stroller is no small task. Keep reading and you will see the obvious return on investment.
In addition to the work of the small move into the stroller, work had COMPLETELY drained me. I had been filling everyone else’s bucket that day. Shelly had a taxing day at work as well. I wanted to take the kids with me to give her the space/time she needed before throwing dinner together (not a minimal task, either). And as usual, I was struggling with myself that day. The whole “Am I good enough for my family?” conversation was loud and clear in my head.
So, here I am with my kids on wheels, and the day’s gorillas on my back. Keeping the kids happy while running requires a bit of work. They were enjoying books, popcorn, and the Dora the Explorer channel on Pandora as we made way through our neighborhood – at minimum they were content. Still, “Am I good enough?”
Pressing on, I replay the day’s issues over in my head. Again, “Am I good enough?”
About a mile or so into our run, I randomly notice one of those 1-800-GOT-JUNK? signs. “Dude,” I thought, “if you only knew about all the junk in my head. I’d gladly call that number to give it away.”
High pressure days typically set me up to run hard. It feels good to let it all melt away with each stride, each block, and each mile. I break these trips up for the kids. We stop and say hello to neighborhood dogs or play at a playground. We pop wheelies every so often while yelling “To Infinity and Beyond!”
“That’s fun Daddy. Do it again!” charged Jude.
“I want more Infinity!” said Sara.
Okay by me. I didn’t really care how this may look to those passing by. My kids were having a blast, I was working my tail off, and my head was slowly clearing. Towards the end of our running adventure we circled back toward home and I saw that same 1-800-GOT-JUNK? sign. This time I was a sweaty mess, but my head was completely clear. No more junk. Just an hour away from all of it with some exertion, fun, and time to reflect put me in much better spot than the first time I noticed the invitation to let go of all the stuff in my head.
I’ve always known that running was good for me in many ways, but not quite like this particular moment of realization. It was crystal clear to me that perfection in parenthood is not necessary.
Sara and Jude were happy…they were had a blast. I received a message via Facebook later in the week commenting on seeing us running that evening, and how fun it looked. Shelly had some down time and was able to focus on her priorities after a long day of work. I was able to let go of the day and quiet that nagging question in my head.
I was good enough. I AM good enough.
I can clearly remember my high school math teacher telling me I was a perfectionist – my own worst enemy. “Just relax, Enders” she’d say. Funny how almost 20 years later her insight and advice remains the same. Being a Good Dad does not require perfection. It’s ok to strive for perfection, but imperfection does not equal failure. Realistically we will fail at one point or another. But even in failure, we are still Good Dads. Just relax, Good Dad.
After reading this, make a little time for yourself…whatever it may be. It doesn’t have to include your kids. Some down time will make you even better than you already are. And resolve to the fact that, yes, you are good enough. That’s a powerful starting line to the parenthood race you are running. Pace yourself on this marathon we know as being a Good Dad.