Sometimes my best attempts at being a great father fail miserably. Like the time I ventured to the zoo with my one and three-year-old, only to realize I forgot to pack diapers or a change of clothes.
We didn’t even make it out of the parking lot and into the zoo before my one-year-old managed to cover herself from head to toe in baby blowout. We turned around and went back home. But I’ve failed other ways too. Here’s how I went from feeling like the best dad to the worse dad in one talk.
How I Went from Feeling Like the Best Dad to the Worst Dad in One Talk
My son, Elijah, was born on May 22nd, so on the 22nd of each month, I take him on a daddy-son date to the restaurant of his choice. I also do this for our daughter but on the 3rd of each month.
On one particular date, Elijah decided he’d rather eat dinner at home and enjoy his date at the ice cream shop. During our time together, I make it a priority to leave my phone in the car to give him my full attention. As we sat down, I started in with my normal questions:
“What kinds of things make you happy these days, son?”
“When you play with me.”
I imagine I was starting to feel like quite the rockstar dad at this point. I continued…
“Is there anything that has been making you sad?” I asked.
Here’s where my son decided to punch me in the gut.
Without hesitation, he answered, “When you’re at the computer and say you’re too busy to play with me.”
My heart sank and tears welled up in my eyes as I sat across from my sweet, chocolate-faced baby boy.
In that very moment, with just one sentence, my son taught me a lesson that I will remember until the day I die:
Parenting is one of the hardest things I will ever do, but it is not complicated.
In the midst of meltdowns, homework, birthday parties, discipline strategies, and dinnertime feuds, my son simply wants one thing—me.
After I put him to bed that night, I continued to reflect on our date. I couldn’t help but remember that my number one role as a Christian dad is to point my kids back to the best Father. The bottom line is, that when we need our Heavenly Father’s attention, we have it fully and undivided. Heck, even when we think we don’t want His attention we still have it. This is the kind of father I want to be to my son.
Dads, I urge you to work hard. Get up every morning and give every ounce of energy you have to take care of your family. But please remember, if you accomplish every dream you’ve ever desired, but fail to love your kids well, you have failed miserably.
May we continue to fight the good fight, keep the faith, and finish the race.
A version of this post originally appeared on DadTired.com.