Dad-fessions and Mom-fessions
We all have experience with them. They’re the things we want to talk about openly with others, yet we have trouble being honest about our life. Saying it may bring on a feeling of shame or seeming ungratefulness for your life. Or it might be a sentence that you know will expose your truth and make you completely vulnerable. Regardless of the reason, verbalizing our dad-fessions and mom-fessions is scary and often more difficult than we ever imagined.
As I’ve evolved from young adult to husband to father, my confessions have become more and more rare. Ten years ago, I was excited to confess aspects about my life, sharing my secrets with loved ones. As a parent, I find that I’m much less forthcoming about my life with family and friends. I hold my dad-fessions inside, fearing the shame I might feel or the judgmental conclusions that people may arrive at about my life. However, I can’t hide who I am from family and friends when I expect them to be open and honest with me. So, in the spirit of wanting to be more open and honest about the difficulties in parenting and adulting, here are four of my dad-fessions:
1. Military moves really suck.
As a military family, we move often. In the past four years, we’ve moved three times. Our family and household are both in a constant state of flux and transition. Even when we’re not in the process of moving, I’m constantly thinking about our next move. When will it be? Where will be go? How will our lives change?
It’s not the “moving” part that’s difficult for me, though. I’m used to going through the collected clutter in every room, packing up my belongings, and driving to a new house. It’s the “moving away” part that’s heart-wrenching for me. I crave consistency and close friendships in my life, and moving away from friends in a place you’ve learned to call “home” is emotionally draining.
Most people usually say, “That’s so cool that you get to move around the country/world and live in different places!” I usually reply with, “Yes, it really is,” although what I really want to say is, “Let’s have you move every few years and see if you still think my lifestyle is ‘so cool’, then?” I am so proud of my husband and all that he’s accomplished (and will continue to accomplish) in the military. However, I cannot wait to settle down and remain in one location for the rest of our lives.
2. I am terrible at communicating with my husband.
Marriage is hard, and some days I feel like a horrible spouse for lacking healthy communication skills. Despite how much we talk, I still find it hard to bring up topics in-the-moment. Especially when I’m exhausted from all the expended emotional labor throughout my day. I wait until ten different topics are inundating my brain and I’m imagining worst case scenarios for all of them before I finally break down and cry/yell at him. Well, maybe it’s not ten anymore, but it’s still more than a couple and that’s not fair to my husband.
My biggest downfall is the fact that I expect a lot of him. I expect him to know why I’m upset or frustrated. I expect him to see my angry face while I’m washing dishes and ask me what’s wrong. When I flip the script and put myself in his shoes, though, it’s ridiculous to expect those things of him. I’m his husband, his partner, and his biggest fan. Certain conversations may be difficult to breach, but he’s entitled to a husband who will do that.
3. My daughter watches more TV than she should.
Since daycare has started again, my husband and I have gotten much better about limiting screen time. However, there were definitely days this summer that she watched Little Einsteins and Super Why for seven hours. Her nap fit nicely between binge-watch sessions, but seven hours is a long time. I felt like a failure of a father on these days! I thought, “We need to go to the park or bake cookies today.” Then work became my main focus, and she watched television while I worked. My daughter deserves better than that.
4. I have issues with my body.
At my high school graduation, I weighed 300 pounds. Within three years of graduating I lost 120 pounds, and I’ve managed to keep that weight off. I am proud of this accomplishment, and I know that I should no longer experience feelings of inadequacy or unhappiness about my body.
Still, I feel like my body is betraying me, despite all the work I put in to staying fit. There are days that I look in the mirror and have a body shaming session through “if/then” thoughts. I think, “If you hadn’t used food to deal with your emotions, then you wouldn’t be in this mess.” or, “If you expect perfection, then go to the gym every day.” No matter that I’m better at dealing with my emotions now and go to the gym four days a week. These thoughts continue to plague me.
Speaking your truth is terrifying.
But it’s also necessary. Our confessions help start the conversations that we need to have most, both with our loved ones and ourselves. They can certainly be scary, but often a sense of relief washes over us once we’ve shared a confession. What’s more, people generally react with understanding and compassion rather than the judgment and anger we often imagine.
I hope that my dad-fessions have inspired you to share more of yourself with your loved ones, and hopefully they’ll share more of themselves with you in return.