Dads, let’s be honest – have you ever faced a secret, shameful fear of going home at the end of the day?
A quiet, back of your mind resistance to the drive home from the office?
I’ve been there, and sometimes I’m still there.
But it never used to be that way. I used to love the drive home.
I’d put in a long, focused day at work. Often I’d be a little bagged. I’d have about 20 peaceful minutes before arriving at a quiet house. Sarah and I would cook, have great conversation, eat a wonderful dinner, and relax. Or watch Netflix. Or go out. Or do whatever we wanted. It was calm, ordered yet flexible, and enjoyable.
Who wouldn’t look forward to that?
Then I had a child. (Whom I love more than anything in the world).
All of a sudden my drives home started to look different.
I’d be more tired because Sarah and I would be up with our baby the night before. Sometimes I’d hear the baby crying from the driveway, sometimes it would be dead quiet (and I better not make a sound….). Sometimes the house would be spotless, sometimes it would be a disaster. I never knew what mental condition my wife would be in after 8 hours alone with an infant. Sometimes she’d be cheerful, others completely exhausted and frustrated. While I was driving home, I never knew what I would be walking into when I got there, or what would be required of me once I crossed that threshold…
It became unpredictable. And my ‘off’ time had disappeared.
Without realizing what was happening, I started to fear going home at the end of the day.
My home, at one time my solace, had become my second shift.
It was about this time that I realized being a new dad wasn’t all roses. And I didn’t like what that change revealed in me.
What I saw was selfishness. Some outside influence impinging on something I’d felt I was entitled to – a quiet, restful home.
I knew that my attitude would not lead me anywhere good. That this fear of coming home could lead me down the road to becoming an absent husband and father. I could see the selfishness in my desire for my home to be a place designed for my rest.
So I asked God to change that.
I turned my drive home into a prayer time. I wasn’t any less tired, but I asked God to give me extra wind in my sails so I could support my loving wife when I walked in the door. So I could play with my son on the floor even though I often felt like I wanted to lay on the floor. I’d give myself pep talks and pump myself up.
And every time I walked through my front door, I made sure it was with a smile on my face.
I saw what it truly meant to serve my wife in a way that was sacrificial. Giving up the large stretches of rest and leisure in order to give her and my son full presence and attention. Because we are partners.
Becoming a dad has brought with it greater joys than I have ever known or expected. But, my first year of fatherhood hasn’t been easy. In truth, often when I leave work, it still is with an apprehension of coming home to an exhausted wife and a toddler that craves (and needs) constant attention. That’s not always easy. BUT – my first priority is to serve them, and doing so brings some of my most fulfilling moments. So I pray on the way home, and by the time I get there, my heart is different.
I’ve learned to love the chaos. I see the gift that a smile, a small gesture, or an embrace can be to my wife after she’s had a hard day – even if I’m exhausted as well.
Husbands, fathers. If you have ever found yourself in a frame of mind where you are not looking forward to heading home, I urge you – push through it. Fight it. Fight for your family.
There is a better you on the other side. The years with our children are short, they are precious. Take every moment – you won’t regret it!
Dads who resonate with this – how do you make sure you are fully present when you get home?