A Dad’s Definition of ‘Take Care’

We often use the phrase “Take care” when wishing others well. It’s a simple way for us to convey our desire for others to be safe, healthy and happy while acknowledging the challenges and uncertainties of life. It’s like saying “Hey, I hope you don’t trip on a banana peel, or get attacked by a flock of pigeons on your way home.” How appropriate, because as a working dad to three kids, eight years old and younger, being told to “take care” opens the door to a whole world of challenges and uncertainties full of banana peels and pigeons.

Taking care of a busy family of five can be like juggling flaming bowling pins, while riding a unicycle blindfolded. It’s a balancing act. You are always one bowling pin away from complete disaster, while trying to keep it all together. On the typical day, you are making breakfast and packing lunches, while trying to let the dog out for a pee and waking the kids and wife up all at the same time. None of whom are morning people.

Weekends are reserved for chauffeuring and cheerleading as you volunteer your time to coach that soccer and football team, with dreams of years past. During that “down time” at home, you’re a jungle gym or pummel horse, as little feet climb all over you like monkeys at the zoo, all while trying to have a conversation with your wife. Sometimes it’s just easier to email each other amidst the chaos. All that comes with the territory.

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As a dad, it’s important you prioritize your family’s wellbeing, and make quality time for them, despite how busy you may be. Take care of your kids and be involved in their upbringing by being a positive role model. Show them what hard work and humbleness look like. Be that superhero that can magically clean up messes in a single leap, fix all cuts and scrapes and find those missing toys. It means ensuring their needs are met, encouraging their passions and providing an environment that fosters their growth and development.

And that was just the kids! What about that lady who constantly nags you about wearing your shoes in the house or using the wrong cookware for certain meals. Your wife. Yeah her. You must take care of her too? Absolutely. Taking care of her needs involves being supportive, understanding and attentive. You need to be a reliable partner and dare I say, be emotionally present. Much easier said than done. That dreaded “E” word is not one that enters the dad vocabulary very easily. In fact, in many cases, we fight it, tooth and nail. We try and avoid that word because it’s so much easier to talk about sports or cars, than to dive into the murky water of feelings. It’s like trying to swim in a pool of Jello, but hey, who doesn’t love Jello? At the end of the day, it’s all part of making sure that family network is churning and humming like a well-oiled machine.

The demands of work and family and everything else in between, can sometimes feel overwhelming. Amidst all that chaos, however, way down deep on some days, there is a sense of fulfillment after taking care of them and seeing your family thrive.

Being a busy parent usually means making sacrifices. Sometimes big ones, but it all seems worth it when you see your kids’ faces light up over that surprise you have been planning for weeks, or the smile on your wife’s face after she sees the fresh bouquet of flowers you got for her, just because. Those moments are like treasures and can never be replaced.

Taking care of your family is exhausting some days and is a roller coaster of emotions that can take you from anger and frustration to pure joy and everything in between. It’s a crash course in patience, resilience and unconditional love. Through all that, it’s best to buckle up and try to remember to just embrace the mess and wild adventure you are on. It could be worse … you could be juggling flaming bowling pins while riding a unicycle.

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