THE BLOG
05/27/2014 12:27 pm ET Updated Jul 27, 2014

How Can I Be a Good Dad If I Want to Cry So Often?

Mike Reynolds

A fraud.

That's what I think of myself too often.

I feel like a fraud when someone leaves a comment on a post of mine calling me a good dad.

You wouldn't think that if you heard me yell at my daughters for hitting each other, my mind says when I see those comments. Or when I say I can't dance because I feel too depressed to do anything but sit on a couch.

I feel like a fraud when I laugh and play with my kids in the few hours I have with them between work and sleep.

You're just counting down the minutes until they're in bed because this is too hard, I hear my mind grovel. You would rather sit on your own and write.

And I feel like a fraud when I'm writing.

Do you think people would see your work if you didn't pay to promote some of these posts? I question myself. Because your writing isn't nearly as good as the other dads' out there.

In fact, even as I write this story, originally planned to be a cathartic exercise for myself, my mind suggests I'm "just trying to get more pageviews."

My mind doesn't always work on this cycle, but when it does, it works overtime on it. All of which leads me to the question in the title I started out with: How can I be a good dad if want I cry so often?

When I'm in this mood, everything makes me want to cry. I want to cry when my daughter's lay their heads on my thigh as we watch Frozen; I want to cry when they won't eat any broccoli at dinner; I want to cry when I think about them not breathing as they sleep and I want to cry when I think about always wanting to cry.

I'm an emotional wreck and I fear it affects my parenting abilities.

Worse yet, this is one of the things I have a hard time finding a positive parenting moment in -- I don't know what lesson they can take from it. Do I let them know how I feel and tell them it's OK? Do I hide the feelings and not worry them with tears at all? I've never felt shame at being a dad who cries. In fact, I've mostly embraced that trait of mine. It makes me feel more human, like I don't feel afraid to show emotion when I feel strongly about something. But when my mind starts telling me bad things about myself, when it takes me to the 12th round of a boxing match, it feels much different from being someone who's crying because a love one has been hurt or because they are so proud of something their child has done. When I want to cry in these instances, I feel weak. This is one instance I really don't know how to be a good dad.

I have an immensely supportive partner and thank god for that because, as is the case when this cycle takes over, I feel like I burden her with more work than I should, both physically and emotionally. I must look and sound like a zombie as I change diapers and get teeth brushed. She knows when things aren't right and works with me to get through them.

Together we've settled on a plan and I think it's the best way to cope with insecurities and to set an example for my kids. To me, weakness would be ignoring the feelings when they come up and waiting for them to go away, which inevitably they always do. When they come back, I could do it all over again, being a less-than-ideal example of a dad who's willing to deal with mental illness.

Strength comes in showing kids that there's never a need to repress feelings and there are always people there to help if you're brave enough to ask. The best example I can set for my kids is to ask for the help, and more importantly, to accept it willingly. The tears don't matter.