It’s inevitable. Every night I sit down at the computer after dinner and right after I log into my facebook, my youngest son comes into the office and asks “Dad, can we look at VeggieTales stories on line?” That is soon followed by his older brother saying “you know dad, PBS kids has some really great games. Let me show you.” So with one standing at my side and the other in my lap, the time I would have spent catching up on the world outside of my office evaporates.
I often question how much my family matters to me. I consider myself a good dad. My two boys love me and there’s nothing greater than when I walk in the house at the end of a long day and they come running up to fight over who gives me a hug first. No matter what is going on they drop it to see me. There are those Fridays where it’s been a long week; and I just need 10 minutes to relax, so I lay down on the floor to stretch out and close my eyes. It’s a sixth sense that my boys know I’m trying to relax, because it doesn’t take two minutes to hear “attack” and my rest time turns into Wrestlemania thirty.
But despite it all there are many times where I could be better. Those moments when they are too loud, or too embarrassing, or too bothersome for me to accomplish what I want to do. “Learn to play by yourself, that’s what I bought all those toys for” is what comes out of my mouth before I can stop it. It’s too much effort to make them go to church or take them to out to eat so we don’t. I need my man cave unintruded by star wars figures. I need my personal time to play Call of Duty instead of Candyland. I need time to go golfing or to BW3 to watch sports. Its tiring and problematic, and then when I’m done pitying myself, doing what needs to be done for me, I walk around the corner and look in the living room. My wife is sitting quietly on the couch with a stack of books from the library reading stories.
So many times my boys just want me to sit and watch them. Just to have me around. To be present. In the grand scheme of things it’s not a lot of time each day. There’s only about an hour a day they want from me outside of dinner, bath and bed times. And I know these times will go by too fast. They already are. And I find myself wishing I could do more.
How much does family matter? I recently had a conversation with my parents about a relative who wants to be a stay at home mom and have a couple more kids. She has the luxury of making that choice because her husband is paid well at his job. But she is also a talented and sought after businesswoman who is entertaining offers. I told me mom “She needs to decide what she wants most because eventually she’ll receive an offer she can’t refuse. She needs to decide what her soul is worth.”
My wife and I have struggled with the same problem. At what point do you sacrifice family for what you convince yourself is “best for the family”. You say “I could give me kids everything I didn’t have if I took the promotion.” But do they need those things? Do more things make up for the time you don’t have? Does two weeks in Hawaii make up for 50 weeks of being a shadow?