I wish someone would have told me about that!
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 mystical all-knowing leader would just share that knowledge with me, then I would be able to navigate the difficulties and challenges that life throws my 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.
What is my point?
The thrust of my thoughts 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 had tried to tell us.
As I write this tonight from my hotel room, I am reflecting on the issue of business travel. For instance, I returned from an international business trip recently just before some of my grandchildren’s bedtime. I had left home on a Saturday morning and I returned home late in the evening the following Friday evening. I was gone nearly six full days. I never really traveled on business very much when our children were that age. 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 traveling 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.
We have another grandchild. He does not live with us. And, I don’t see him as frequently as I would like. But, even though I don’t normally see him throughout the week, when I am traveling, I miss him just as much because I am away from home and CAN’T see him.
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 was to know.
Is there a leadership point for fathers in this?
So what is the point for you fathers out there who see yourselves as leaders in your families?
Fathers, take every opportunity that you can to stay connected to your children when you are away on business. Cell phones, Skype, and FaceTime 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.