Maybe later. Not now. After dinner. Possibly tomorrow. We will see. I’m not sure if I can. I have to work. Sorry man, have a meeting. It’s too late. We will try next weekend. I’m sorry, we ran out of time. It’s too cold. Too hot. Too wet. Too windy. Too early. Too late. I’m too tired. Hmm…let me think about it!
I’ve uttered these excuses in a thousand different ways to describe why I’m unavailable to respond to one of my children’s requests for my time. A rationale for why I can’t enjoy the moment.
My oldest son completed 8th-grade last weekend. Yesterday, it seems, he was sitting immobile on the ground surrounded by blocks and balls. That was his first word, “ball.” Tomorrow, he will step into high school, a new world of discovery, responsibility, and freedom. The moments I have to enjoy with him will grow fewer and further between.
Brooks, my 12-year-old, loved dressing up as Spider-Man and wrestling until bedtime. Those costumes are now packed away somewhere. Karlie loved American Girl dolls. Tucked away in her closet. Elise and Lydia are still holding on to their littleness, at least for today.
I’m tired of making excuses for not being in the moment. There is no excuse for it really. I have my kids for but a few moments, and I’m going to make the most of them.
I should mention that I started writing this during the top of the 1st of my 11-year-old’s softball game. She just made a play in the field. I’d be lying if I don’t mention that I missed it while wordsmithing this piece of encouragement to all you dads out there. I missed the moment. You see, even good things can get in the way of the most important things.
I should also mention that I love my kids with everything that I am. Being a father, aside from being married to Beth, is the greatest gift and joy of my life. I was present at all of their births. I heard their first cries. I put them to bed every night and am home for family dinner time every evening. I can’t remember the last sporting event or activity I missed because I had something better to do and I don’t intend for any of that to change.
I’m simply tired of missing moments because I naively assume there are plenty more moments to be had.
Beth and I celebrated 16 years of marriage last week. My youngest is two-years-old, meaning I only have 16 years left with her at home. If our time as husband and wife has flown by so quickly, I have to assume fatherhood will too.
So, here’s my charge dads. Be present. In the moment. Work hard, but get home quickly. Provide well for your family, but remember that the greatest gift you can give is you. Play, but play more with them than by yourself. When you’re tempted to offer an excuse, breathe and consider the possibility that this moment is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy them.
A couple of nights ago, I was heading out for an evening run just as the sun was going down. I like to run alone. It’s where I breathe and think and process and pray. My oldest was awake and for the first time, the strangest idea crossed my mind. “Invite him along.” But I… “Invite him along.” But it’s too late… “Invite him along.” But it’s been a long day and he needs to be in bed. “Invite him along.”
So, I did.
I ran while he rode alongside me. And for those four miles we talked and laughed and shared stories and swapped ideas about what we could do with our summer. At mile three I sucked down a bug. We laughed. I’m glad he joined me. We enjoyed every moment of it.
Dads. In front of you stands the greatest opportunity you’ll ever have. It’s the present. Right now. You. Them. Enjoy it. Every moment of it.
I should mention that Karlie just batted in her first RBI of the season. She smoked it up the middle. I saw it and cheered loudly. I think we’ll get ice cream. And I guarantee we’ll enjoy it!