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What’s the hardest thing about being a dad?
I’ve got a different take on this than most of the selfless things people seem to bring up when discussing the difficulties of parenting. These are the 3 hardest parts I’ve experienced as a dad.
Losing My Old Life
Life changes irrevocably once you have a child. You learn you can survive without continuous sleep. You lose a lot of flexibility to travel, like the freedom to do things randomly. Personal time is much less common. I no longer get to prioritize anything in my life above my child, because if there is a problem, I need to be able to get to him, period. There are wonderful things about being a dad, but I miss my old life, and the freedom it afforded.
Losing My Wife’s Attention
Before having my son, my wife was a stay-at-home wife who pursued a plethora of passions, and whom I got to spend all my free time with. We traveled, played games together, ate out most nights, saw movies, and so on. With a child to take care of, that time is much more divided, and often one of us is with my son while the other does necessary tasks. We could bring him on the necessary things like grocery shopping, but then there are the tantrums and the slower pace and everything else that turns a 20 minute trip into an hour. But I digress: For the first 4 years I almost never had my wife’s attention. Now I have it much more, and some balance is restored. But I missed my wife, and her focus upon me.
Am I doing this right? I have one son. When to be strict? When to be forgiving? When to be nurturing? When to be stern? How much consistency at the price of compassion? How important is school? Is he getting enough socialization? Is he getting enough time to relax? What quirks matter and what can be ignored? So many questions, so many things to screw up. In the end, you decide and move forward because there is no other choice, and you count on the adaptability of the young to get him through.
Worrying about being there for him in 5 years is pretty far down the list. It’s there somewhere, but nowhere near the top.
John L. Miller has been a software developer at Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Oracle for 25 years. Read more from Quora below: