I no longer want to be known as Grumpy Daddy

July 6, 2012

A number of years ago, Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain posted a drawing his daughter made of him, "Grumpy Daddy". That illustration has stuck with me ever since, for various reasons. That's not to say I'm always "Grumpy Daddy", but lately I increasingly have been.

This is something I desperately - immediately - want to change.

My wife and I are really stretched right now. School started only two weeks ago and I'm already feeling burnt out from the routine of school, dance class (five days a week!), piano lessons, swim club, church responsibilities and all of the activities, and energy, that come up with three kids and a dog.

Add on an incredibly busy schedule for me at work and I feel like we're running flat out, all of the time.

When our kids were much younger, we saw other families we knew shuttling their kids here, there and everywhere for individual activities. We thought, "Let's not do that." Yeah, right. Nowadays, even with just two activities per week, per older kid, this means that we only have one evening of seven where we aren't on the road, going somewhere with somebody. It's tiring.

Yep, I've certainly been grumpy. I've also been less patient, less tolerant and worse of all, less fun. Lately, my kids try to make me laugh and I just can't bring myself to chuckle at their jokes. I forcibly smile, but that's it; how horrible must that feel to them? Or to my wife. My family needs a happy husband and father, not a miserable one.

So, starting today, I'm going to try to be:

More patient
Often times, stuff with kids takes way longer. I need to plan ahead and just roll with it.

More tolerant
I need to let more things, especially things that don't really matter, go. Just let them go and enjoy the moments. A better example. When I ask the kids to do something but don't do it myself, I'm not behaving as I should. I need to be the example, not just ask them to act in a certain way.

More forgiving
Everybody makes mistakes. I know I make a lot of them. I need to be less responsive; be slower to react to mistakes. I also need to turn more negatives into positives; lemons into lemonade.

Better at prioritizing
Given our schedule, we don't have a day as much as we have small windows of time in a day to do things. Yes, I need to get done what I need to get done, but as soon as I arrive home or all (or some of us) are together, it needs to be just about my family and nothing else. Off goes the phone, TV or computer for everyone.

Less selfish
I gave up my dream of being a professional cyclist years ago, long before our kids arrived. I've given up a lot of other things too, but I think I need to give up even more. I have a great work environment and a loving wife and family, but sometimes I forget that and brute force my way into getting what I want.

That's not to say I shouldn't abandon the pursuit of my needs altogether, but I have to put other people's needs more often ahead of mine. To rejoice in the gift of giving.I'm thankful to God for the wonderfully awesome privilege of being a father and husband.

Today I'm trusting Him to use my shortcomings to help make me better at both roles.