the like me, but I want them to love me

Fatherhood Goals: ‘They like me, but I want them to love me’

I want my kids to love me like they loved Earl. Who is Earl? And who are they? First, let me give a little back story.

The FBI is at it again!

I’ve been dubbed as the FBI by my wife’s family for asking so many questions. Some of which I feel like I have the right to know. Others, maybe not so much!

Last year we had the chance to spend New Year’s eve with a good portion of the family and of course, I had all the questions. We’re lucky if we see these people once a year. So there will never be a better time to sit down and have honest conversation.

Although, if there is a silver lining to being in quarantine for the past 2-3 months (I’ve lost count), it is that folks are doing a better job of connecting regularly via video calls.

Anyway, at the end of our time with the family, one thing was clear to me…

I want my kids to love me and remember me, like my wife, her siblings and all the nieces and nephews, loved her father, Earl.

I’ve had time to reflect on all the conversations and questions I’ve asked about this man. Remember, this is my kid’s grandfather. So I feel entitled to some information. And still, so many questions remain unexplored. What is clear is that Earl is held in very high regard and his memory lives on, even 10 years after his passing.

Who is Earl?

As previously mentioned, Earl was my wife’s father. He died nearly 10 years ago of lung cancer, before I had the chance to meet him. Occasionally, when Im having a moment, I let my wife’s family into my frugal brain. And sometimes their follow up is, “Earl would’ve really liked you”. That leads me to believe that we shared the frugal gene.

From the outside looking in and without actually getting the opportunity to meet this man, I wouldn’t be doing Earl any justice by trying to summarize his life in a few short sentences. So’ll stop there!

What is relevant for this thought exercise is that Earl was not without flaws. Not by a long shot. But, Im not here to spill the family tea. Its relevant because of all the pressure I put on myself to be a good husband and father!

What struck me and continues to stick with me is that Earl did not spend a majority of his kids’ formative years side by side with them. And yet, they worship this man. That by itself brings into question my reason for pursuing FIRE!

Part of the reason for pursuing FIRE is so I could spend more time at home with the family

But does that even matter? If I zoom out and fast forward to the moment I am on my death bed, would it have mattered that I was there for the major milestones? What is considered a major milestone? Is there an official definition? Graduations, weddings, childbirths are areas most of us would agree fall into this category. But what about dance recitals, proms, sports games, and pre-K graduation? Where do they rank?

Perhaps its quality or over quantity when it comes to time. But how do I up the quality of the time Im spending with my family? Should I give them a survey to fill out to make sure its up to par?

Where is my fatherhood guidebook?

As you can see, I’m a few years into this journey and I still have so many questions. I’ve heard that becoming a husband and father is the equivalent of becoming a police officer without going through the training academy. You’re simply handed a gun and badge and told – good luck out there! (Credit to The Good Dad Project for that analogy)

My oldest baby is going on 4 and I’ve already used up ~20% of the total in-person time that I’ll ever have with her, according to this post. That’s depressing to think about. I barely feel like a grown-up my self sometimes.

Bottom Line

I know that I am overthinking things. But when I hear my wife and her family reminisce about her father Earl with smiles on their faces and joy in their voices, I can’t help but wonder if Im having the same impact on my babies.

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