Life is good. A loving wife, two adorable daughters, a house in the burbs, cars paid off, and a job that pays the bills. I'm holding it down like a real man should. Phone rings. What? Huh? I just talked to her a few hours ago. Dead? Is that what you just said? Yes, your mother is gone. This one phone call started a snowball of doom that would roll through my life for the next two years.
Snowball of Doom
I don't think you ever get over the death of a parent, you simply just learn to cope after a few years of grief. Four months after my mother's passing, I get the news that I will be laid off from my job. Being that my wife is a stay at home mom, that equates to no income coming into the house. Houston we have a problem. I'm the spiritual, emotional, and financial provider of this house and I'm unemployed. The problem grew bigger and bigger as the months turned into a year and I still hadn't been able to land a new gig. I was actually unemployed for a total of 20 straight months. Yes, twenty--that's no typo. Also during this stent, both of my grandmothers passed within three months of each other. Here I am without a job and I just lost 3 matriarchs that always cheered me on when things went wrong. I felt overwhelmed. I really thought I was unfit for this role of a husband and father. This was mainly due to the fact that at that time I found my worth and measure in the amount of dollars (or lack thereof) in my bank account. Our society conditions men to view themselves in this way.
The Journey To Find The Real MeThe snowball of doom felt like it was going to take me out. However, it was the beginning of my journey into understanding who I really am. During my unemployed season, I looked earnestly for a job and took odd jobs here and there to try and make ends meet. My family was sustained somewhat by my efforts, combined with support from family and friends. I was grateful, but it just didn't feel good. I found myself angry at God because I was supposed to be able to provide for my family and it seemed like I was making no headway on finding gainful employment. I thought and shared with my wife that she and the kids would be better off if I weren't around. I had a life insurance policy that would have them set. My wife confronted me on that one day, saying, "you know firsthand the pain of growing up with no father, why would you even think about wishing that on your daughters!!?" Thankfully, she spoke the truth and her words cut me deep.
I continued the job search, but I also decided to change my perspective. Instead of spending all day looking for jobs, I set boundaries on the job search and became more intentional about spending quality time with my kids. I began to do things that I couldn't do if I were on a job. Several days, I found myself at the beach watching a sunrise.
|My youngest daughter and I celebrating her birthday during the "unemployed years"|
|My bride and I visiting Hershey, Pennsylvania|
How to Create Good out of BadSince then, I have successfully found my way back into my original career path of television production. My current job pays pretty well and I'm doing what I love. Of course nothing compares to being greeted at the door everyday by my fan club of three. Thanks to them I was able to take that snowball of doom and used it to build a snowman with my daughters.
I want to encourage all fathers out there to take an account of what is going right in your life. Regardless of your situation, you can still be a great father. You owe it to yourself and your kids to focus on the positives that you bring to the table. After all, in their eyes you will forever be their superhero, so you might as well swoop in and save the day. So here are some easy ways to do just that:
- Get rid of negative relationships (Getting rid of the draining friendships gives you more time and energy for your kids)
- Take each child out individually for an hour at least once a month (It doesn't have to be a full meal--grab a slurpee together and talk).
- Make family dinner a nightly tradition as much as you can (Play High/Low where each person tell the best part (the high) and the worst part (the low) of their day.)
- Spend at least an hour a week doing whatever your child likes to do (I play with Barbies quite often).