Dear Dads, Daddies, Fathers, Pops, Papás, and Big Poppas,
Happy Father’s Day!
Keep thinking you suck.
Those four words are better than any other gift you might get on this special day. Seriously, wouldn’t you rather have someone say that to you than receiving a gift certificate to Outback Steakhouse? I mean, the Bloomin’ Onion ain’t that good. Thinking that you suck as a parent is truly a gift from the heavens. It means something important.
It means you are doing fine as a dad.
Whether you show it or not, most dads worry. You can cover it with jokes, pratfalls, and fart sounds, but deep down almost all dads worry that they suck at being dads. If you didn’t think you sucked as a father then you would automatically be a sucky father. Sucky fathers don’t worry about being sucky. They’re too busy ignoring their kids and “livin’ the dream” to care. So even though all of that worrying about sucking as a parent is in and of itself a sucky feeling, know that it is a result of loving your children more than you love yourself.
Thinking that you suck as a dad keeps you constantly on top of your game. It keeps you striving to do better. You know why Kobe takes hundreds of pre-game practice shots? Because he is always freaking out that he might not be good enough come game time. If Kobe didn’t worry then he wouldn’t be on the floor all by himself raising treys for a full hour – he would be at home on his couch eating an everything bagel, sipping on some Squirt, and thinking to himself, “Kobe doesn’t need to practice. Kobe is great simply by being Kobe.” But he doesn’t do that. And neither do you. That’s why neither of you really suck.
Of course, there are moments where you unfortunately do suck as a dad. And those moments truly… um… suck. No father is perfect – not even Bill Cosby. So you worry that you just sucked as a dad and you tell yourself that next time you will do better and the next time you do actually do better… until the next, next time you suck as a dad and you get to worry about it some more so you can become even better the next, next, next time. Yes, it’s a vicious circle of hell that you are in, but it’s a vicious circle of hell that works and lets your kids know that you are there for them.
Is it fair to ask of you to keep worrying that you suck? No. Not at all. Being a dad is not about “fair” – not even in the slightest. You will always get the short end of the stick. That just comes with the territory. At least you get this one day to celebrate you. It’s not nearly as important as Mother’s Day (No restaurant is fully booked for a Father’s Day brunch. Is there even such a thing as a Father’s Day brunch?), but at least you get twenty-four hours. Hopefully you will use those twenty-four hours to rest, relax, and regroup – giving you the energy to worry about sucking for the rest of the year.
Michael Cain has a great line in the vastly underrated Nicholas Cage (the not crazy, yelling Nicholas Cage) vehicle, “The Weather Man,” where he states, ‘”You never stop worrying about your children, no matter what age they are.” Those words should be both stressful and yet at the same time quite comforting to you. Yes, it means that the fear of sucking as a parent remains with you for the rest of your life. But it also means you have someone in your life to worry about. It means you will constantly be trying – sometimes failing but at least trying – to rise to the occasion for the sake of someone else. It means that you get the opportunity to want the best for someone other than yourself.
It means you will always get to be a dad.