How many times have we said that as parents? I know that I have said it about a bazillion times. Or, I have said it at least “ten hundred million” times, which was the largest number that I could comprehend as a child.
Human nature assumes that someone out there knows all of the answers. And if that person would just share that knowledge with us, then we would be able to navigate the difficulties and challenges that life throws our way. So human nature insists that there is information that is out there, but it is not always shared with us. That may or may not be true. I am hoping that some will respond to this with some thoughts on whether or not they believe there is some great cosmic consciousness that contains all that there is to know. (My personal belief is that the Bible contains all that is necessary to do whatever we need to do in life — including parenting.)
But the thrust of Fatherhood Friday today is that although there are tons of things that we think someone should have told us, we probably would not have believed them if they did.
For instance, I returned from an international business trip last night just before my grandchildren’s bedtime. I left home last Saturday morning and I returned home late last evening. I was gone nearly six full days. I never really travelled on business very much when our children were little. I was away overnight a few times. But not many. And I was surprised by just how much I missed them after only a few days away. And I was really surprised by how much they seemed to miss me!
My point is this. People told me how much I would miss my family when I was gone. But, I didn’t really believe them. I really love my children and yet I did not realize the intense connection that exists in some (not all unfortunately) between a father and their children. I can remember very clearly my own father travelling when I was young. And I know how much I missed him when he was gone. But I never looked at it from his perspective. And to be truthful, if you would have told me that I would miss my children intensely when I was gone, I would have said that our love is so strong and secure that I will be just fine while I am away. But the reality is that I do not sleep well when I am away from home. I constantly wonder what they are doing. In fact, I never change my watch to the local time when I travel. Whenever I look at my watch I want to think first about home and what they are doing. Then I do the time zone calculation in my head for what I need to do then and there.
Many of you are aware of the recent birth of our third grandchild. He was born prematurely and was in NICU for a while and then when he was sent home from the hospital it was necessary to stay away from him for the first 6-8 weeks of his little life. We are very involved grandparents. Some may say overly involved, but that is their opinion. But I will say this. Those first few weeks that he was home from the hospital were some of the longest weeks of my life. We were not able to see him and snuggle him and bond with him like we had with our first two. Fortunately and by God’s mercy he is fine and healthy. And, in fact we get to go visit him and play with him tonight.
I think that there are many things that I wish someone would have told me. But I remember being a young father and thinking that I already knew everything that there is to know.
Fathers, take every opportunity that you can to stay connected to your children when you are away on business. Cell phones, skype, and Face Time leave little room for an excuse not to talk with your children every night before they go to bed. Let them know that you love them and that you miss them and that you cannot wait to be home with them again soon.
Photo credit: Phillie Casablanca / Foter / (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: 27147 / Foter / (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Photo credit: stevegarfield / Foter / (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Photo credit: Redfishingboat (Mick O) / Foter / (CC BY-NC 2.0)