I can say, without a shadow of a doubt that the hardest challenge I've faced to date is that of being a father.
There's not a day that goes by when I don't wonder, at least once, whether or not I deserve to be given that responsibility. I can't even start to count the mistakes I've made in the role; whether it's about the way I talk to my kids; spend enough time with them; don't spend enough time with them; discipline them; don't discipline them...the list is endless.
My eldest and I have clashed since she was very young. Character-wise, we are pretty similar which sometimes leads to an explosive concoction of temperament and sheer bloody-mindedness . The low point was last week. After another clash, she ended up writing a "book" about how much she hated me. She subsequently felt terrible about the "publication" as did I and wanted to rip it up, but I stopped her. It was time for a téte-à-téte in which we tried to find a way to build bridges instead of destroying them. The next few days saw her showering me with numerous pretty "I love you daddy" cards. We're still on that narrow path, but I feel that I am more aware of her grievances.
Number two is also being problematic right now. She is similarly blessed with the same stubbornness (I blame their mother for that) but less easy to reason with. Her ezcema playing up also helps to provide an irritation, although it is too easy to blame this for her negative behaviour. More bridges to build I guess.
Numbers three and four are thank G-d still enjoying their daddy, without giving him too much grief. Number four in particular is rather keen on the old man...
Please don't think I completely blame my kids for the way they treat me. I am far from perfect and continuously make my life more difficult through stupid actions and responses. I wish I knew the key to getting the best out of them and showing myself as a being a model/perfect father (if there is such a person). As I said, it's so hard - yet Dana, wise as ever made the following comment:
"Don't give up on her (no 1)".
I guess I have to use that as my mantra with respect to all four. As crap a father as I think I may be, I have to ensure that I do a better job and avoid giving up on trying to get better at the job.
This year has been a tough learning curve, both professionally and personally. Let's hope I can learn the lessons and pass the results through to my wife and kids.
I can't afford to give up on either.