Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Working for the Weekend

With apologies to the 80's rock band Loverboy

“Dad, I’m mad at you,” my younger son said.

It wasn’t the words I was expecting. We’d spent the afternoon watching the Gwinnett Braves, complete with hot dogs, fries, and those kid games out on the berm. It was Tim Hudson’s first Triple-A rehab start and he’d done ok. The G-Braves won the game 10-5. We ran the bases after it was over and then Christopher threw up in the stands as we were leaving. (The stadium staff proved very kind and helpful.) However, even with the less than perfect ending, it had been a good day and I was stunned by what he’d said.

“What’s wrong?” I queried. “Didn’t you have fun today?”

“Yeah, but tomorrow, you have to go back to work. I won’t get to see you for a whole week.”

“What do you mean? I see you every night. We eat dinner together. I take you to practice and stay until you’re done.”

“Yeah, but there’s no time to play.”

That statement was hard to understand. I do work hard during the week. In addition to being home in time for dinner, I work from home twice a week. I play catch with him when I can. But for my little guy, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough that I watched all his practices and games. It wasn’t enough that he always saw me at dinner.

He wanted one-on-one Dad time.

Unfortunately, that I can’t always give him.

Now that school has started, my schedule has tightened. When I get home, I help my older son with his studies. (My wife helps our younger son.) Invariably, the little guy gets done first, while my older son is sometimes up studying until 9:30 or 10:00.

“Dad, can we play a game?” my younger son asks.

“Not right now. I need to help your brother. Maybe later.”

The little guy sulks away and then throws a fit about how I never have time for him. I know. He’s seven and he’s acting like it. Still, it hurts.

“Do I spend enough time with the boys?” I asked my wife.

“Why do you ask?”

“Well, I’m just wondering if I can do more. I can’t coach baseball, because of my commute. However, the church needs Sunday school teachers. Maybe I can volunteer there.”

“With our schedule, it would be difficult,” she said. “Why is this bothering you?”

I told her about what our younger son had said at the game and coupled that with his recent meltdown. It got to me. As parents, we have such little time to enjoy our children when they are children. I don’t want to waste a second.”

“You spend a lot of time with the boys,” she said, “probably as much as any attentive Dad, maybe more.”

I hoped she was right, but I still think about it. The moments we have with our kids are precious. They are to be enjoyed. They are to be savored. They are to be lived, while you have the opportunity to live.

Because they’ll soon be gone.

Readers, how about you? Do you have times where you wonder if you’re spending enough time with your kids? I’d love to hear about it.


Jody Hedlund said...

Thanks for sharing this awesome reminder, Walt. Even though I'm with my kids all day every day, I sometimes get too busy to stop and "play" with them. I don't want them to be dependent upon me for playing, which they're not. But the time we have together is short, and I need to remember not to let it get lost among all of my scrambling everyday.

Walt M said...

Jody, glad you enjoyed it. Also glad I'm not the only one that experiences this battle.