Balancing act: To 'have it all,' start with being a good dad
Her response provided more evidence that the children are paying attention to my job and its role in meeting our family's needs. On the one hand, I'm glad they're aware of that connection. On the other, I wonder if maybe I focus on that too much when talking to them.
At least she noted that I sometimes make up "funny games." See, I'm not all business!
My 12-year-old daughter said dads, in general, are usually the ones who earn the money for a family, but quickly added that that's not always the case. She said dads are usually good at different things than moms, but "they're also really good at being kind to their family and keeping their family together."
As for me in particular, she said she had two answers about the most important things I do. First was to "go to work and get money for our family so that we can buy food and clothes and pay the mortgage and stuff."
Once again, all business. (I was impressed that she knew what a mortgage was. I'm sure she'll be all too familiar with the term in her own future.)
This particular daughter is a total sweetheart, and I melted a bit when she added her second item. "Sometimes, since we don't see you as much as we see Mommy, we want to spend time with you, and ... you're not grumpy when we ask you to do that, and that's nice."
"Really? I'm not grumpy?" I responded.
"Not usually," she giggled.
This may have been one of those times when she was following my wife's example and just saying something nice, but I appreciate her sentiments.
Finally, I talked to my 15-year-old daughter, wondering what the wise teenager in the family would have to say. She responded that, whether it's a mom or a dad, someone needs to work to provide for the family, and "that's pretty essential."
"Another thing is that dads provide a different perspective on things, usually," she said. "Sometimes they can be a little more mellow or a little more firm, depending on different things. And another part of it is all the dads that I know, ... they're usually funny, but you don't want to mess with them, because they also teach you discipline in a fun way, and that can help you get through life."
She loves to tease me and her grandfathers, even though she knows she'll be gently teased — and probably tickled — in return.
As for the most important thing I do as a dad, she was the only child not to mention my role as our family's primary breadwinner. "You're willing to play with us," she said.
I certainly am. The question is, how often do I translate that willingness into actually having fun, one-on-one or in a group, with my children?
I've decided I can do better. Even if I can't "have it all," I can try a little harder to be the father my children expect me to be. That's the kind of "work" I'll always enjoy.