Dear Dad Who Feels Like He Wants to Quit

Inspired by this post:

Don’t quit.

Sometimes it sucks. The world is bearing down on you to bring home a metric ton of metaphorical bacon and expects you to not only earn it but lift it over your head and grill it on a spit over an open fire and then eat raw in a display of so much manliness. But here’s a secret.  It really doesn’t matter if you “bring home the bacon” and no one really cares that you stayed up till 2 am filing those reports that were “needed” by opening of business. I know you sit in the car or take extra bathroom breaks just to get away from it all sometimes. I know you cry and that sometimes you just can’t hold the tears back. I know that sometimes you just want to throw yourself at the next little skirt that walks by and leave your life behind in a tumultuous tryst that will ruin your reputation forever, just so you can have one last thrill. I know. I know because I have felt that way.

I’ve sat at the bar with my beer in my hands thinking that I couldn’t do this fatherhood thing anymore and that I really didn’t matter or make a difference and that I would never be able to provide for my family the way society expects me to – which, by the way, I still really don’t. Because I’ve felt that way I need to write this, and you need to read this, so that you know, right now and forevermore, you matter more than you might ever realize.

You, and your life, your voice, your giving of self, it matters and it matters deeply.

There will be crappy days. There will be weeks that make you want to curl into a ball and set yourself on fire. There will be months that you’ll stop shaving because you just can’t bear to look at yourself in the mirror long enough to accomplish the task. But I’m here to tell you, you can do this. I know you can. You can pick yourself up. You can realize your ability to crush words that are holding you back because you will begin to realize that those words are mostly just coming from inside your head. The truth is you can be dad today. You can be dad everyday. You will look into your children’s eyes and when you see them smile you will know that it is worth it. You know how much you love them and you won’t be afraid to tell them, because that’s what fathers do.  Even when you want to give them a taste of your backhand (or belt) for all those moments of impudence and disrespect, you still love them unconditionally. You can order pizza when you don’t feel like cooking, you can give them vegetables on their pizza so that you can feel better about giving them something quasi healthy. You can drive your son to ballet or your daughter to baseball and know that you are raising perfectly well-adjusted children no matter what society says they should be. Because the fact is, being in the car with them is what matters.

Trying and not succeeding is not the same thing as failure. Failure only happens twice in life. The first is when you don’t try, the second is when you don’t learn something from the previous attempt. If you try something and don’t succeed, learn something from the situation and carry on. That’s what being a dad is all about.

Fatherhood is never as you imagine it. Fatherhood doesn’t isn’t like the Cosby show, or The Brady Bunch, or even some more recent family sitcom that I can’t remember the title of. Sometimes it’s like that. But most of the time it’s nothing like that. What you need to understand is that image, that standard, is not what makes a father. While it’s nice to reflect upon those moments of serenity, they don’t really matter in the long run. The thing that matters is you. What matters is that you are giving yourself for your family.

The impact you leave on your children and spouse is only slightly bigger than the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.


Photo Credit: NASA

We’ve all messed up, more times than we can count. Maybe not as much as Graham’s number, but a lot I can assure you. What’s important though is all the times you’ve done well. Those times that you’ve been there. When you wake up at 1 a.m. and fall asleep in the rocking chair with your feverish coughing baby because that’s the only way they will sleep, that’s what matters. When you teach your children to eat a dinner of Easy Cheese and Ritz crackers instead of having a balanced three course meal, and then laugh about it later, that’s what matters. Not buying a pair of jeans even though you have worn through both knees because your child needs something, that’s what matters. When you read that book for the tenth time today, when you help them with diagramming sentences that you never learned to do in the first place, when you do the laundry which you hate more than anything in the world, that’s what matters. When you keep every single pencil holder art project in your office and drink from the coffee cup that has their picture on it, when you check on them at 2 a.m. just to make sure they’re still breathing, that’s what matters.

You learn to treasure the moments that you had to wipe multiple bodily fluids off your new tie and freshly polished shoes just before a big meeting with the new boss.

I know you feel like you want to quit. Don’t. Pick up the fatherhood sword of duty and tell yourself that you can do this. Today and every day, you can do this. You will do it for your family. Don’t think about how John is fathering, or what the twitter feed says, or the internet picture of the perfect father. You are the perfect father for your children today. Don’t let the world qualify your fatherhood. There is no price tag large enough that would ever illustrate the true value of fatherhood. You are an amazing gift to your family.

I believe in you.


  1. colleenvon · · Reply

    Dads are all too often left out and overlooked in their struggles as parents. Even though they are more recognized now than ten or twenty years ago, it is only a fraction of an increase. Beautifully honest and uplifting.


    1. That is such the unfortunate truth. I’m glad you like it and thank you so much for commenting.


  2. As a father writing a memoir about being a lousy father, I couldn’t agree more with your words. The measure of a man is never how many times we think we have faltered or fallen down, but how many times we get back up.


    1. First: Thank you, thank you, thank you for commenting. Your kind words mean so much.

      Second: Please let me about your book. I would love to rrad it.


  3. I believe in you too, Dad’s of the world.
    This was an amazing post, Mathmaster


    1. Thank you so very much. I see so many posts that want to tell mom what a great job they’re doing. I think it’s important that dad’s know too.


  4. Deborah the Closet Monster · · Reply

    This is beautiful, and about to be shared with my husband. Thank you.


    1. Thank you very much for your kind words. I put a lot of heart into this post.


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