When I was first asked to write for this Father’s Day feature on Lubbock Moms Blog I was super excited. Chelsea has become a good friend and somewhat of an inspiration as we both parent children with special needs. I couldn’t wait to put down all my creativity and cool dad jokes into an article that people would love and would surely be celebrated by dads everywhere (like, want to hear my pizza joke? nevermind, it’s too cheesy). Then it hit me – the deadline that is. Yes, I can be a bit of a procrastinator, but this time it wasn’t necessarily procrastination that delayed me. It was lack of a topic, or maybe lack of desire to talk about what was really on my heart.
I am a father of 4 uniquely amazing kids – 3 sons and 1 daughter. Their ages range from 25 to 6. I like to refer to them as two sets of children. We have older boys from my wife’s first marriage who are 25 and 22 now, but when my wife and I married they were 5 and 3. We also have two younger children who we adopted that are 9 and 6. Our 9-year-old little guy has Cerebral Palsy and we adopted him when he was 1. Our 6-year-old daughter is adopted from China and we have had her since she was 18 months old.
I love being a husband and father. Love, love, love it. It is all I have ever really wanted to be. I have also known since I was 14 years old that I wanted to adopt – it was my life’s plan, and I have it. I have an incredible wife and 4 wonderful kids. They are all amazing in their own unique ways. However, I will tell you that I have not always been an amazing father. I feel like I learned lessons that are very important while raising our older two boys, and looking back I would have done things much differently. Regardless of my shortcomings, they have grown up to be the things we all want as parents. They are kind, compassionate and caring. You see, when my wife and I first married they were 5 and 3, and I had visions of baseball, basketball, scouting, camping, and so much more in my dreams with them. We had a lot of fun in those first years together. They were trying to learn about this new person in their life and I was trying to learn how to be a father and husband all at once. Along the way, I lost track of some important things that taught me the most about being a father. I lost track of what they wanted and who they were and replaced that with an expectation that was mine, not theirs.
It is easy as a parent and especially a dad to lose focus on what is truly important sometimes. It is hard being a dad; we really try to get it all right. We try hard to balance our marriage, being a father, and our careers. Sometimes we get scared too. We get scared about what our children’s future looks like without them learning the lessons that we think are most important in the way we think they should learn them. We get scared when they don’t always bring home the best grades or exhibit the type of work ethic we think they should. Things like this were very true for me with our older boys. I got scared A LOT. I seemed to always jump to the worse conclusion when imagining their futures, something I regret personally to this day. Despite all of this self-confession about mistakes that I feel I have made, I still get to be their dad. Don’t get me wrong, there were and are lots of great things that I have done along the way but those mistakes I made and continue to make as a parent are what truly help me to be a better father and husband.
So, as dads it’s OK to be tired, it’s OK not to have all the right answers all of the time, it’s OK to mess up. You are allowed to make mistakes, but keep going! Being a dad is really hard work. It takes guts, it takes courage, it takes constant adjustment. Don’t beat yourself up when you screw up guys, learn and move on. At the end of the day, those mistakes that I feel like I made with our older children helped me to be a better dad for our younger two. It also didn’t impede their ability to be successful or limit their opportunities in life. It helped us all grow, together, as a family and it also made them kind, compassionate, and caring.