"My Kids Are Brats" And Other Harsh Truths Dads Learned During Lockdown

Matt Christensen

The near country-wide lockdown of Covid-19 has pried or eyes open and forced us all to face a number of stark truths. About inequality, about the infrastructure of our country, about what work is truly essential, about how much we take teachers for granted. But it has also brought to light personal truths. Now that we are all at home, spending much more time with our families, parents are beginning to face realities they were once able to overlook, about themselves, their jobs, their families, their marriages, their various relationships. Curious about what harsh truths fathers around the country learned during lockdown, we asked various fathers to tell us theirs. Some spoke about how obsolete they feel in the wake of coronavirus; others about how their kids were brats or their marriage was flat. All expose realities that could only become clear during a long period at home. Here’s what they told us.

I’m Lazy

“I always say that I’ll clean the basement when I have the time. I’ll organize the garage when I have the time. I’ll start writing a book when I have the time. Well, guess what? For nine weeks, I’ve had the time and I haven’t done any of that. I’m ashamed. I really am. Because it’s been a hard, two month look at how lazy I’ve become. I could make excuses, like ‘It was hard to keep track of the days.’ Or, ‘I wanted to take the time to relax.’ But, it’s all bullshit. I’m just lazy and undisciplined, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s something I need to fix.” – Rowan, 37, Pennsylvania

I’m Entitled

“We did a grocery pickup, and when I went to go get everything, they told me they were out of about half of the stuff we’d ordered. I didn’t say anything, but in my head I kept thinking, ‘Ugh! What the fuck? How hard is it to find Pop Tarts and frozen chicken? This is so annoying!’ Stuff like that. Luckily, it only took me the drive home to realize what an entitled asshole I was being, and that I should be grateful we were able to get the food we needed. I’ve realized I tend to do that a lot — whine to myself when things don’t go my way. And I think it’s a sense of entitlement I wasn’t totally aware of for a long time. I’m glad I was able to reflect on that a little and, hopefully, stop doing that. But it was a harsh wake up call, for sure.” – Thomas, 35, Michigan

That My Wife Is a “Karen”

“We ordered curbside takeout for dinner one night, and both my wife and I went to go pick it up. The server brought it out to the car, and my wife double checked the order, which was incorrect. Now, the whole process was frustrating. It took us like 10 minutes to be able to get through on the phone to let them know we were there. But my wife wasn’t having it. She got fed up, started yelling, and asked to speak to the manager. I’m not sure if she does this regularly, and I’m just not with her when it happens, or whether this was a fluke, but I was so embarrassed. At least she doesn’t have the haircut.” – Kevin, 34, Ohio

I’m Lying to My Kids

“My kids ask me all the time what’s going to happen when this is all over. So, of course, I tell them, ‘Everything will be fine. Everything will go back to normal.’ But, who am I to promise that? The truth is, I have no idea what’s going to happen. And that’s just as scary for me and my wife as it would be for them. It’s not even over yet, so any prediction I make is just me being hopeful, which is important, but also me blatantly lying to my kids. I mean, I get it. It’s important to keep things positive, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like a failure as a protector and source of safety for my kids.” – Matthew, 38, North Carolina

We’re Slobs

“My wife and I both realized that we’re way bigger slobs than we’d like to admit. It’s little things, like leaving dirty dishes everywhere, letting laundry pile up, or not dusting. But, being stuck in a house for eight weeks magnifies all of that to the point where it becomes blatantly obvious. And kind of disgusting. Normally, we’re both at work and the kids are at school. So, there’s some obliviousness that comes with the chaos of daily life. But, having to live in it constantly and consistently has been a reality check we all probably needed.” –  Brian, 34, Florida

I’m Obsolete

“I’m a travel agent. Well, I was a travel agent. I got furloughed when the pandemic started. Then I got laid off. Given all that’s happened, I don’t see any future where my job is not completely archaic. Things were rough before all this, but I can’t imagine the travel industry ever fully recovering. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve spent the past six weeks realizing that I’m probably going to need to change careers. That’s just beyond scary for me, because I have a family, times are crazy, and I have absolutely no clue where I would even begin. It’s just a constant state of worry and uncertainty.” – Noah, 40, Indiana

My Anxiety Is Worse Than I Thought

Before the pandemic, my life was pretty busy. I worked a regular schedule. My wife and I would go out with friends pretty regularly. I always kept myself occupied. Now, with nothing to do but sit at home, I’m realizing that my anxiety is pretty bad. I think I always kept myself distracted enough to stay out of my own head. But, there are only so many distractions available right now, and I’ve started to overthink and catastrophize just about everything. I’ve had full on panic attacks because it seems like all I do is repeat the same thoughts over and over. It sucks, and I can’t wait to get back to doing instead of thinking. – John, 35, South Carolina

My Kids Are Brats

“I hate to say it, but my sons are jerks. Over the past two months, I’ve gotten a crash course in just how mean they are to each other, and how rude they can be to other people. They’re 10 and 12, and I always knew they weren’t angels. But, I’ve heard them cursing at each other, fighting, and acting up during their Zoom classes, and it’s really disheartening. I don’t think I’m completely oblivious to how they act, but this has been unpleasantly surprising. Maybe it’s because we’re all cooped up, and tensions can get high. Maybe I’m overreacting. But I’ve really questioned a lot of my parenting skills in the past eight weeks.” – Sam, 40, California

My Wife and I Have Nothing in Common

“We really don’t. We don’t agree on anything. From cleaning habits to dog training, we’re just complete opposites. We’ve been married for two years, so I don’t know how it took us so long to realize the extent of our differences. I guess that’s what quarantine will do, though. At first, it was really upsetting. It seemed like the arguments were so frequent, and so stupid. Like, we would argue over the most mundane, ridiculous things. Almost as if arguing was something to do to pass the time. Now, it’s still irritating, but it’s almost become a source of levity during the lockdown. I don’t love it, but I’m hoping that it’ll lead to some more positive communication and growth once this is all over.” – Reid, 32, New York

I Don’t Appreciate My Wife

“I always thought I did a good job showing my wife appreciation. But, I don’t. She’s at home during the day, and I’m at work. And it wasn’t until quarantine that I realized just how incredibly hectic her daily life is. She does everything. We have three kids, and until the lockdown it was just her and our two daughters at home. Now, our son is home, too. I try to help out as much as I can with scheduling, school, and stuff like that. But, I’m way out of my league. My job is a breeze compared to all the stuff she has to juggle. She’s never said she feels unappreciated, but I’ve realized I don’t fully acknowledge just how much she holds things together. It’s made me feel really guilty, honestly.” – Adam, 41, Connecticut

I Hate My Job

“Having to feign interest over seven or eight hours’ worth of Zoom meetings each day really clued me in to how much I hate my job. In the office, I can distract myself pretty easily. I’ve got headphones. I can go grab coffee. I can take a quick walk. But, during a Zoom meeting, you literally have to be right there, the whole fucking time. So it’s just a constant stream of babbling and pontificating about useless information that, truthfully, has really bummed me out. I’ve realized just how pointless and unimportant my days are, which has made me question the last six years of my life, career-wise. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis brought on by quarantine. But, like, is this what I’ve been doing for six years? It’s just been really discouraging.” – Sean, 38, Ohio

I Have a Temper

“I never realized I was so irritable until I was forced to spend eight weeks in confinement with my family. That’s a terrible thing to say, but it’s true. I definitely attribute some of my touchiness to the situation. But, I’m also starting to look back at times before the lockdown when I probably overreacted to being upset, and wasn’t the best husband or father I could’ve been. I’ve been short with my wife and our kids plenty of times during this whole thing, which I regret. We’re all in this mess together, and I feel like there are times when I’ve acted like I’m the only one who’s ever inconvenienced. That’s not fair. And it’s not representative of who I want to be with my family.” – Will, 37, Oregon

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