Being a good dad is hard, being great seems impossible

This was originally posted on Devin Schoening's Tumblr http://ayearoffatherhood.tumblr.com/
Being a good dad is hard, and being a great dad seems nearly impossible. The symbols of excellent fatherhood often come from the fictional characters of television, movies, or books. These symbols lay out a path for fatherhood that is bathed in simplicity. Fatherhood is complex, and fatherhood is lonely. Dads rarely talk deeply about the essence of their role with their children. They share proud moments. They share stories, but rarely, are dads gathered around the table talking through the finer points of fatherhood.
Tonight, I’m reflecting about my work as a dad, and I ask for forgiveness. I ask for wisdom. I ask for grace from God, my family, and my children. In these dark moments, I remember not having enough time to pay attention. I remember being harsh with my tone. I remember forcing someone to eat food at the table, and I remember yelling when someone accidentally elbowed me in the jaw. As dads, we rarely talk about these moments. Whether we are ashamed of these moments or whether even it is about pride and competition, dads don’t break down their work as dads like they do the pick and roll or a recent double switch in the eighth.
Our parenting flaws as dads are locked in our own heads, and there often appears to be no visible path to improve other than trying harder the next time. Being a dad means sacrificing time with our spouses, time with the guys, tickets to a show, or an opportunity to travel. It doesn’t mean that these things have to disappear, but they are tempered, and this is hard. Being a parent allows us to see beautiful moments in our children, and lore tells us that those are supposed to offset any loss of time, self, and autonomy, but sometimes it doesn’t, and that again is really hard.
Do any dads know what allows fatherhood to be the perfect space of love, compassion, and joy for all? I don’t know many dads that are ready to be the wise sage to lead us into this new level of understanding. Balancing life is hard, and doing it as a dad is even harder. I need a deep grace surrounding my fatherhood. I need grace from my kids. I need grace from my wife. I need grace from my community. I need grace from my God. There are no mulligans in fatherhood. There are just memories of doing things the wrong way and somehow still eliciting smiles from our kids. There resilience isn’t an excuse from my lack of getting better at being a dad.
There are dark moments in our years of fatherhood (and for me this is one) when being a good dad is hard, and being a great dad seems impossible. Tomorrow. Hope. Grace. Renewal.