Only human - Reflective thoughts on being a dad.
I decided to grab a sneaky Costa before work on order to try and sit down and work out some financial stuff this morning.
Once that was done my mind began wandering and I took in my surroundings. A few tables over is a dad sitting with his two daughters, both of whom must be 8 or under. They’re behaving well, but I find myself wondering why they aren’t at school and why he isn’t at work. I’ve no doubt that there is a valid reason, and I’m also conscious that it’s none of my business anyway, yet still I wonder.
It’s often said that no man lays on his death bed wishing he’d spent more time at work. I can’t help but believe that’s true, such is the frequency I’ve heard it muttered (see also: “God exists”… ) but is it really that simple?
I’d love to spend more time with my family, but truth is that I spend so much time at work because it pays the bills, and after work I’m generally knackered. And that’s only a 9-5 job.
Even if I worked half the time that I do, the time I could spend with the kids wouldn’t necessarily be quality time. It’d be time restricted by financial restraints, and though I’ve no intention to spoil my kids by giving them everything that they want, to have the opportunity or the option to would be nice.
Instead, I’m restricted to a few options. Six months of the year tends to be wiped out by the weather, the remaining half tends to pass by in a series of disagreements where the 12-year-old wants to do something different to the 6-year-old, or the 8 and ten-year-olds choose to voice their opinions in the loud and expressive way that siblings do when they struggle to be heard.
Having four kids is hard, more so as I never envisaged not bringing them up with their mum, but then no-one chooses to have kids or get married if they don’t think it’s for the long term. But any “kids go free” deal always has a clause that it’s one kid per two adults (or on rare occasions one kid per adult), which still ramps the cost up be for doing anything.
Generally, my time spent with the kids is good.
I enjoy their company and I keep them entertained. Sometimes it’s fraught with arguments, fights and disagreements.
Occasionally I’m pleased to be handing them back to their mum and the following week is spent dreading what they will be like when I have them next.
There are definitely things that I could do better, and I often have moments when I reflect and think about my actions and how they affect the kids, normally after a disagreement has escalated to a shouting match.
I used to think that this made me a bad dad. Over the years, I’ve learnt that, quite simply, I’m only human.