We’ve talked before of the crossfire hurricane that is becoming a father. When you first become a dad, your whole life gets turned upside down. As you scramble to manage and handle all the things now on your plate, you sometimes say to yourself: When they’re a little older, this will calm down. As soon as we get through [insert phase], everything will go back to normal.
It’s this delusion—this lie, really—that we use to explain all the things we’re putting off. I’ll start going to the gym once they’re out of this sleep regression. I’ll start eating better once they’re less picky about food. I’ll read when we go on vacation and they’re playing with their friends. My wife and I will get our relationship back on track once they’re in school more or out of the house for good or whatever.
It was Seneca who said of fools that the one thing they’re always doing is “getting ready to live.” One thing far too many fathers have in common—mothers too—is that they are always putting off taking care of themselves. This may come from a good place, but the results are good for no one.
You have to take care of yourself. You think your terrible eating habits aren’t contributing to your temper? Of course you’re grouchy—you feel like a disgusting piece of crap! You think you’re doing your kids a favor by shortening your lifespan? You think you’re modeling what a good man looks like when you’re struggling to get up the stairs or pick up a box of groceries? You think you’re making them feel safe and loved by letting your relationship bleed out on the dining room table?
You have to take care of yourself. For them. For you. Because you’ll be a better dad if you’re healthy, happy, and wise. Don’t put this off. It’s not selfish. It’s essential.