Being a dad can be difficult. It involves a lot of cleaning gross stuff off of walls, answering tons of questions and praying for patience. Sometimes these difficult things and others like them can be emphasized at the expense of the joys of fatherhood. The joys of fatherhood greatly outweigh the difficulties.
Here are a few of those joys.
I really struggled around the time I entered middle school. I had all of these cool toys but I was starting to think that I was too old to play with them. I was right. (Note: This was in the mid 1980s, before it was fashionable for men in their 30s to play with action figures.)
Twenty years later I’ve been set free. Because I have two boys, I get to play with some really sweet toys and it’s called being a good father. It’s sort of like getting paid to test mattresses.
“I really love seeing you and your boys playing with all of those action figures and pretending to blow stuff up. That’s such a good example.”
“Wait. My kids are here too? I mean, thanks. It’s the least I could do. Fathers have to make sacrifices and this is just one of many. Pray for me to persevere.”
The only time this backfires is when I’m playing something with my kids and they leave the room and my wife walks in on me still playing with their toys. There’s no way out of that one.
2. Man Time
My wife deserves breaks. The boys and I call this Man Time. Man Time typically involves wrestling, loud music, mud and firing our AK-47. Just kidding. About the playing in mud part. Worms lay eggs in that stuff.
Our most recent Man Time took us to the grocery store where we picked up a few things for dinner. I know, it doesn’t sound very manly until you know how we picked up those things for dinner. My boys don’t sit in the shopping cart like they’re supposed to. No sir, they’re standing on the bottom rail and hanging on with their hands as the wind blows through their hair and we zoom down the beverage aisle. The ladies that work at the store hate this. But we can’t be stopped. We live on the edge. Ridin’ dirty.
3. Raising Young Men
My wife hates bugs and my boys aren’t too fond of them either. But if one of my boys sees one, that bug is dead within 30 seconds. A bug in the house is seen as a threat to my wife’s safety and my boys have made it their job to protect mom. This is only a problem when we’re outside and every living creature is seen as a threat to mommy.
“No son, the puppy is our friend. Put the AK-47 down.”
On our last trip to the store, the one where we were ridin’ dirty on the shopping cart, my sons asked if they could buy their mom some flowers. This made me just as happy as if they wanted to buy me flowers. Wait, I don’t like flowers. Bad example. A cordless drill. Yeah, that’s it. What I’m saying is that I have a responsibility to raise boys who will respect women. When I see them respecting and caring for their mom, I know they’re on the right track.
4. Gospel Lessons
My youngest son hasn’t been talking for very long. But at least once a day, when we all sit down together for a meal, I ask him to pray. He always responds the same way.
“Daddy, you help me?”
And it’s always my joy to help. This is a repeat-after-me prayer that I actually like.
I’m pretty sure that he has no clue what he’s saying when he follows his dad in thanking God for food, big wheels and Jesus. But one day he will.
One day my son will probably have his own family to pray over. And when starts out with “Dear God” and finishes up with “In Jesus name, Amen” maybe he’ll somehow think back to the times when he was a little kid, the kind that liked to hang on to the sides of shopping carts, and his dad taught him how to pray.
On my worst day, I get to teach my two boys how to approach the Living Creator God in Jesus name with the help of the Holy Spirit.
And I think that’s the greatest joy of fatherhood.