I see the tension in your eyes and your shoulders when you walk through the door from a job you don’t enjoy. You grab the kids and wrestle them as they gather around you like a gang of seagulls hungry for your attention. “Dad, dad, dad!” the little one says while the big one tells you a story neither of us can follow.
“Hey babe” I say, and we exchange an understanding glance. You are tired; you are discouraged; and you are wondering why you can’t seem to find “the thing” that makes you come alive. Since you were a boy you’ve dreamed of “the thing”; when you were in high school you were full of hope for “the thing”; in your twenties you wondered why you hadn’t found “the thing”. Now you’re in your thirties and you’re tired.
We are both tired.
Every year that has gone by that you haven’t found your dream job, your purpose, or your calling. You’ve made mental checks like roman numerals.
I know this road has felt long and hard, but babe, I want you to know something:
You have done well. You don’t see it; you only see what you haven’t done. You see your dreams like illusions that you can never seem to reach. Every year that goes by feels like another year you “didn’t”.
But, babe, YOU DID.
This year, you were a father; you were an amazing father. Our kids know you really see them and they know you believe in them. They know you love them beyond a shadow of a doubt. I know you wish you gave them more, and that you weren’t ever impatient or stressed, but babe we all get that way. You are a good dad, a really good dad.
This year you were a husband. You were my husband and I wouldn’t choose any other husband on the planet. You are my partner and my best friend and I love doing life with you. You always make me feel stronger and more powerful and more beautiful. I am better because of you.
This year you were a provider. You worked your ass off. You did things you didn’t want to do for the sake of love. You showed up every day and you wore down your body doing labor that wasn’t fun for you. You took care of us and we are so grateful for you. Thank you for showing our kids what it looks like to work hard at things for your family.
This year you were a dreamer. You are a dreamer, and that will teach our kids to dream too. You listened to podcasts and you studied late at night. You haven’t given up on finding your passion, and I’m proud of you for that.
This year you were an inspiration because you never gave up. Even when you were tired, even when you were discouraged, you kept dreaming and wrestling and trying things.
And you will find your thing, I’m sure of it. I believe it with my whole heart.
I’ll be with you while you wait.
And until then, don’t forget that we’re your thing too. Even if you get to the end of your life and you never found your dream job or your life’s work, we are your thing. We are your greatest fans, and you are damn good at belonging to us.