Dear 2018, I am not my best self. It’s cool.

Today, this week–right now–I am not my best self.

A little over a month ago, I was rocking and rolling. I’d just wrapped a rewarding semester of teaching at my full-time gig, had set my personal best time in a 5k, was playing tons of music with my kids, and was eagerly anticipating a family vacation. It seemed as though 2017 was wrapping up nicely.

I felt awesome. (Does any of this sound familiar?)

Fast-forward five weeks, and I’m a disaster. I’m unshaven and overdue for a haircut. I live in an embarrassing rotation of hoodies and jeans. I often “forget” to put on deodorant, and my primary value seems to be in my abilities as an alarm clock, chef, dishwasher, laundry folder and chauffeur to a family of four. (Quick note: I’m not counting myself in this four; I’m including Taco the Cat.)

I feel horrible. (Does any of this sound familiar?)

Hell, even up until last week, I was reserving time for me to work out and tend to my body. Then, the damn Bomb Cyclone lit up the Northeast causing the most frustrating string of snow/cold days imaginable. In addition to losing any breathe of “me time” or hopes of accomplishing work during daylight hours, I was forced into the role of “Pokemon card translator” for my 5 year old. This combination of being snowbound and endless stream of (stupid effing) Pokemon cards nearly turned me into Jack Torrance. Nearly.

This is Jack Torrance. I knew you’d get the reference with a photo.

Add to all of this, the slight shoulder sprain I suffered shoveling our elderly neighbor’s walkway, and I’ve basically been my own worst nightmare–devoid of quiet time, high on frustration, and unable to do much physical activity.

Mostly I feel like I’ve let myself down. I’m working a live national basketball broadcast this weekend and am deathly afraid of trying on my suit. My classes begin in 7 days, and I’m not sure I know how to have a conversation that doesn’t involve Charmander or “health points.” (I hate that I even know these words.)

The thing that concerns me most, though, is the way this is all manifesting in my body issues. Sure, this isn’t a popular topic for 40-year-old dudes to discuss, but I have serious (serious) eating and body issues. I know this sounds silly, but these issues consume me–even, and especially, when things are going “well.” And when they are going poorly, I become my own inner-bully. Yeah, there’s a word for what I have, but I’m not feeling strong enough to use it right now. Even still, I think you get the point.

(Does any of this sound familiar?)

Even this photo makes me want to spit.

The frustration cycle is extra concerning to me because of my role as dad. In the past, I could suffer through these issues and know that I’d bounce back eventually. These days, with two rapidly-forming healthy little men watching my every move, I’ve got to model healthy decisions. And it’s hard.

It’s really hard right now.

Here’s the good news: We/I/You are not alone. We are dads. We push forward and work through. We persevere. We move mountains. We hold up torches through the darkness. (We also read Pokemon cards, cook, wash dishes, wake people up, and do tons of laundry.) It’s all part of the ride. And dammit, this ride doesn’t stop for anyone.

So, today, do your dad bros a solid and check in with them. Maybe not a phone call. Maybe an email or a text. Tell them you love them. Let them know it’s OK if they aren’t there best selves right now. Because dadding is really hard. And crushing it is exhausting.

Maybe even send them this link. I’ll tell them for you.

OK, ready? Here’s the line they need to read:

Hey, buddy, I see you. You’re kicking ass.

Kyle Belanger

Written by: Kyle Belanger

Proud father to three children (in order: one deceased, one adopted and one biological), Kyle is constantly navigating the worlds between actively grieving and openly gloating. Learn more about Kyle here.

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