One of the things you’ll hear us say a lot on this site is that being a dad is your most important job. It’s true, and we hope you start to see it that way too. But it’s also worth questioning whether “job” is the right word to describe fatherhood.
Because clearly some parents turn it into a job, much to the detriment of their children. Not in that they make being a mom or a dad a chore, but that they see it as something for which their labor should be compensated, where some kind of exchange should occur. My job is to put a roof over your head and clothes on your back, to read all the best parenting books and stay up on the latest parenting trends; your job is to get good grades, to clean your room, to obey. While it may not be the intention of those parents, it can start to feel like that unconditional love might not be so unconditional.
And if it doesn’t become strictly transactional, sometimes casting parenthood as a job turns it zero-sum. Like if you read all the right books or follow the most cutting-edge advice, you’ll be the one to get recognized and rewarded as the parent who is better than all the others. It turns parenting into something you’re supposed to win at, which sucks the truth and the meaning and the connection out of it.
That cannot possibly be healthy for those parents or their kids. A calling is probably a better way to think about being a parent. A person who has dedicated their life to the craft of playing the guitar, or medicine, or writing doesn’t care what other people are doing. They care about the process. They’d do it for free if they had to. There is no “winning” for them, just getting better every day.
Try to think of fatherhood as your calling, your vocation. You didn’t just choose it, it chose you. You were designed for it—by millions of years of biology and evolution. The stars have aligned and here you are. It’s not about what college or what pre-school you get your kid into. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t the first child in their class to read, just as it doesn’t matter how you look together pulling up to day care. It’s the craft of it, the act of it, the every-single-day of it that matters. Are you getting better? Are you putting in the work? Are you putting in the love? Is it the most important thing in the world to you?
That’s what a calling is about. It’s so much more than a job.