Throughout fatherhood, there are going to be times where it feels like you are taking a test. What do I mean? The first night you bring your baby home from the hospital is your first real test as a dad. The first time you feed the baby is another. The first overnight with just you and your first baby. And, the test that I just had last weekend: your first overnight with your toddler and your baby and no spouse. Let’s just say this was the first time that I felt like I was failing as a dad.What exactly happened? Here’s the story, ya’ll. Sarah was away for a bachelorette party for the night, leaving me with Maddie and Sophia for the night. Normally, I don’t really worry that much about overnights without Sarah. But, what had me worried was bedtime. Typically, Sophia has been needing one of us to lay with her until she falls asleep. I was worried that I would have a screaming Maddie while I was laying with Sophia. Somehow that wasn’t the issue for the night.
Instead of laying with Sophia, I did the next best thing–took both girls for a drive in the car. This is typically my guaranteed method for getting them to sleep. For Sophia, it worked like a charm. Actually, Maddie also dozed off on the ride. I got home, got Sophia in bed, and was getting ready to take Maddie up when she awoke and got fussy. And I mean FUSSY. I’ve seen her fussy plenty of times over her five months, but nothing like this. It was 8:00pm and I usually get her to bed by 9:00pm. On this night, that wasn’t happening. It seemed that everything I did, every move I made, every step I took, nothing would work. She continued to cry. She refused to sleep. Hungry? Nope. Want to be rocked? Not a chance. Play on her mat? Think again, buddy.
So, as I failed in my attempts to get her to calm down and sleep, I sent Sarah many text messages, updating her on what was going on. I felt bad, I wanted her to have a good time and not have to worry about what was going on at home. I knew I was making her feel bad, and I didn’t want to do that. It got to the point, after two-and-a-half hours that Maddie’s screams and cries woke Sophia up. That seemed like it couldn’t have come at a worse time, but it was actually the key to getting Maddie to finally sleep. What worked once, had to work twice, right?? So, back in the car we went! And, it worked. Maddie passed out, finally! After nearly three hours of cries, screams, and everything in between, my baby girl was finally asleep in her crib. And Sophia wasn’t far behind her.
I have never had a night where I felt so inept as a father. All I had to do was get the girls to bed and it wasn’t happening. Feeling like you can’t hack it in the dad department is one of the worst feelings a dad can have. I don’t wanna know what the feelings that could be worse actually feel like, because this was bad enough.
So, instead of turning back to Sarah and bothering her with how I was feeling, AGAIN, I turned to a group of people I’ve known for a matter of months. The Dad Bloggers Facebook group that I belong to. These guys range in age from young to older, from new dad to vet. If anyone knew what i was going through, it was these dudes. And I was right. I put a post up about my feelings of being a failure and they were there with words of encouragement, stories of their own, and advice. It was truly appreciated. Charlie, from Howtobeadad.com, also new to the world of having two kids shared a recent post he wrote, comparing having two kids to being like a single parent. It was a great post and one that I could really relate to. Cort Ruddy, of RuddyBits, shared a story of bed times without his partner-in-crime/wife around, as well. These stories helped me feel better about my night and were truly appreciated.
Now, I know that I’m not a failure as a dad. Far from it, I like to think. But, the fact remains that there are going to be times where I’m going to feel like I’ve failed. And those times are going to suck, and that’s something I’m going to have to deal with. But, in the moment, they are horrible and I’d rather not go through them often.
When have you felt like a failure as a parent? What did you do and how did it make you feel? I’d love to hear in the comments, on Facebook, or @brownie_22 on Twitter.
3 thoughts on “Feelings of Failed Fatherhood”
Very recently, Nick. All three of my kids are sick, and I’m just about fed up with all the coughing and the waking each other up and the snot and then now I’M getting sick… I know it’s out of my hands but I feel like I can’t get it right when I lose my patience or when I can’t seem to think of the protocol (e.g. take their temperature, duh!) to do to make them feel better.
And yes, nothing worse than not being able to put the kids to bed. There are nights when for whatever reason one of the babies is crying for half an hour or more and it literally ruins my night. I just sit there and I can’t ignore it and you just feel so bad.
Nights like those are the absolute worst. We had the sick baby, go to the hospital, be up until 4am night just happen last week (which I’ll be writing about this week). It’s nights like those that are kind of like being indoctrinated into parenting, in a sense. They do make the good times seem just that much better though!