The "Too Busy" Dad - What your kids will remember
Our son Emmett is peacefully taking a nap right now after a tiresome morning of us playing ball, hide the dog toys, and hide and seek. It is the day before Thanksgiving and I live for days like this. I took the entire week off which means I get to spend undistracted, quality time with my son. Life is good.
But this is not a normal day or week. I have a job that I absolutely enjoy, but that takes me on the road most weeks. Facetime and phone calls help while traveling, but they are just not the same. I have worried that Emmett is going to have a huge life accomplishment while I am gone and I am going to miss the whole thing. I worry that he will forget who I am when I walk through the door on Thursday night.
But that has not happened, and will not happen. Let me tell you why. Kids have an interesting perspective on life. They love their parents, no matter what. Most of the time, they don't even notice the things we fear they will. In fact, most of the time, they see something we perceive negatively as a massive positive.
Let me explain. My father, my role model, and the man I strive to be is in the same line of work I am in today. He worked endless hours and spent weeks on the road when I was a kid. Every morning he would put on his suit, grab his work bag and head off to work. I loved it. I wanted a work bag just like dad. He brought home a spare computer from work and I adored it, because I got to be like dad. To this day I don't remember him leaving Sunday night for a two week trip. What I remember is the bear hug I got when we picked him up from the airport as I put on the baseball cap from the city he visited. Those are extremely happy memories.
I worry that Emmett will think that dad is always working and does not spend enough time with him. I can imagine my dad had the same fear 20+ years ago. I shouldn't worry. Seeing my dad work so hard for all those years made me who I am. I saw the dedication, hard work, and long hours it took to be successful in business. It is what got me through undergraduate, law school, and the bar exam.
There is a reason all of these aspects of my dad are positive memories in my life. My dad made the most of every second he was home with me. On a Saturday afternoon we would take our two computers and play Battlebots against one another (still to this day my favorite game). He would show me how to network the two computers together and what each piece of hardware did. The first time we did it I learned the difference between a hub and a switch. My dad was spending time with me. He could have been out with his friends playing golf or watching football. But he was with me. This was not just a one time thing, but an everyday thing. I knew my dad loved me and that I was important to him.
Kids will remember the time spent with you. Plain and simple. They will remember if you were on your phone checking Twitter or Facebook on the couch, or if you were down on the floor rolling their favorite ball to them. You will too. You won't remember what you read on Facebook that day, but you will remember that laugh and two toothed smile as you chase your one year old around the house.
To the working parents of the world. Give yourself credit. You worry and fear about how your kids perceive the amount of time you work. But if you make the most of the time at home, they will come away with unforgettable positive memories. All the while they will remember that you worked extremely hard and still made them a priority. As a 26 year old adult, I can't begin to explain the impact it will have.
Love the time, love the laughs, love the snuggles, because that is what they will remember.