When Being A Dad Isn't The Best Thing Ever.
Talk to any dad and ask them what it's like to be a dad and most will tell you it's the best thing in the world. They may also say, ' I didn't have a purpose in life until I became a dad.' In this post we talk about those moments when being a dad isn't what it's all cracked up to be and how to move out of the shadow of depression and the feeling of being overwhelmed.
I became a dad a little over 4 years ago. I was excited for what was about to happen and the thoughts of teaching my child all the cool things I knew. It just permeated into most of my conversations. Fast forward to now and as I look back I realized that most of that time was not fun. In many ways it was not the best thing ever. For you current dads out there you can attest to the sleepless nights, the feeling of helplessness when the kids are ill. The moments when you have no patience anymore and are feeling burnt out. We all get there at some point. When you add the complications of family life it can really give you a sense of being overwhelmed.
Being a dad in the armed forces just adds more stress to an already stressful situation. We leave for various exercises, deployments, conferences and most of those times we have no control over when those take place. it usually happens during a recital, birthday, or holiday. Sometimes all we can do is call home and try to hold it together while talking to a sick child or spouse that is at their wits end because being a single parent for any given amount of time is difficult. We start to believe that we aren't doing a good enough job because we can't comfort them in their time of need.
How many of you have been away and your furnace goes out at home? Or your car breaks down and since we are some of the lowest paid laborers in the workforce we have no idea how we are going to pay for any of it. You have to choose between fixing the car or paying the light bill that month. Of course, you choose the car because you can't afford to not have a safe mode of transportation for your kid and wife. That all adds to the stress of being a dad. It can and will drive you to have anxiety and depression. I still get anxious when I go on a work trip because I usually have an emergency back home while I'm away.
What do we do? How are we supposed to handle being a dad, husband, service member, provider and still maintain our self worth and optimism? The first thing is to STOP!
STOP trying to handle everything on your own.
STOP hiding your feelings away. Find an outlet
STOP being stubborn. You are not Superman.
When you realize that you can't control everything and you let go of that control you find your self less concerned about the little things that will take care of themselves. The second thing you do is find a local group of like minded individuals that will listen and be there for you. If you can't find a group, start one. There are other dads like you that need a social circle. I find that just having someone to vent to does wonders. I know I won't be judged and I know they are either going through the same struggles or have been there and can offer advise. I created a Daddy Combat Facebook group for this very reason. There are other Dad groups that I've talked about in my other post Dad Groups on Socal Media: Toxic or Helpful that fit this criteria and has helped me in the past.
Finally, make time for yourself. Pray if you believe in prayer. If not, take that time to meditate and do some deep breathing exercises. I've done both and I can physically feel the difference. My heart rate slows down and my muscles feel relaxed.
Being a dad isn't easy. It sucks a lot of the time. The reward is in the moments where you feel like a superhero or movie star every day that you walk through the door. The pitter patter of their little feet against the floor as they bolt into your arms. The day you hold your kid when they are in pain and you can only hug them tighter you will understand that being a dad hurts more than what people let on.