The Hidden Fear of Going Home

RThe Hidden Fear Of Going Home

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?

Justin

Justin according to Sarah – thrives at almost anything he applies his head and heart to. He never stops learning, and loves dreaming up new challenges to grow himself. His introvert ways give him incredible insight into life’s obstacles, of which he’s had his share. But best of all, Justin fully engages in his relationship with God, our marriage and the beginning of parenthood. Oh, and he spoils us with great coffee and cooking!

5 Comments

  1. Jordan mason July 13, 2017

    I had to do this constantly, and still do as a stay at home dad! I also had to make a really conscious choice not to let work trickle into those first few minutes of home time when my wife needed me most.

    1. Justin July 13, 2017

      Right? It should be so simple but in practice…. it can be more difficult than I’d like to admit! I hesitated writing this because after how hard Sarah works all day it seems almost petty to voice these feelings. But they’re there, and I think to ignore it or minimize it is a mistake. It definitely requires intentionality each day!

  2. Dave Mc July 13, 2017

    Great post! I remember this feeling well. Driving home, and wondering what kind of scenario was waiting for me. Sometimes I’d know exactly how the day had been for Lisa and our little ones because of texts or calls through the day (for better or worse). Our kids are now 10 and 13 yrs old, both in school, and and feels like a 2nd (or 3rd) shift awaits at the dinner hour until ‘bedtime’.
    I have not seen many people write about this so honestly. I’d like to emphasize that there is often nothing wrong with feeling this way. It’s very natural to mourn freedoms and options that seem gone forever with the change that kids brings to our lives, but there is a problem with how many men handle these feelings, for sure. Hiding/avoiding is a common tactic, mentally disconnecting, or focusing on hobbies… even pursuing extra work projects to simply avoid being home enough for good fathering and husbandry. I’m def guilty of many of these things at different times in my marriage.
    I’m glad that we’ve been able to pray, talk, and work through many of these things and recognize some of these behaviors in ourselves. (It’s easy to point them out in others, lol) Parenting well is hard. It takes intentional effort, just like a decent marriage. We have a responsibility to fight for our spouse and family time, not let life simply happen to us.

    1. Justin July 13, 2017

      Thanks Dave! Agreed! I think these feelings are natural and to a degree, should be expected. Some days I handle it better than others, but I always try to make my best effort!

      1. Sharon Hedegard July 22, 2017

        I LOVE this post and your honesty! It’s been a L-O-N-G time since we were there, but as a stay-at-home mom, I knew that my introverted teacher/husband would need a little time to de-compress at the end of his day. To give him that time (no matter how rough my day had been) I tried my best to have a fresh pot of coffee ready and give him 10-15 minutes to re-group before our 3 kids ‘assaulted’ him. LOVE that he realized that it was a gift from me to him! It doesn’t feel like a long time, but we will be married and SO happy together for 50 years this summer! It’s about both of us giving 100% of whatever we can (not 50/50) most every day.

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