I have been blessed to have two amazing kids, both of whom are about to hit milestone birthdays. On September 11, my son will turn 20. TWENTY. How in the world can I have a twenty year old child? And on October 27, my daughter turns 18 and officially and legally becomes an adult. My baby girl. An adult…
Yesterday I spent three and a half hours on a golf course in the blazing heat with my son, and I thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent together. Today I’m sitting here pondering how much he’s grown and developed. Pondering how his childhood is gone.
And I’m sitting here wishing I’d spent more time with him and his sister.
I don’t think I was/am a bad father. But I do think I could have done more. Spent more “quality time” with them. Even spent more totally nonsensical time doing absolutely nothing “important” other than being with each other. Both of my kids have grown and developed into wonderful young adults. They are smart, well adjusted, considerate and caring and empathetic individuals. Some of that can be attributed to genetics, much of that can be attributed to their Mother, and hopefully at least a small part was my doing.
But couldn’t I have done more? Yes, I could have. However I can never go back and try again. You don’t really get “do overs” in parenting.
Maybe it’s normal to sit back and reflect when your children reach these ages. Do that, and the “woulda coulda shoulda’s” come rolling in. Was I the best father I could possibly be, every single day? No, I was not. All too often work takes over. The daily grind, the trials and tribulations of life, those things tend to take over and consume us. Obviously I had to work — after all the kids need shelter, food and clothing. But work doesn’t equate to love. And oh how I do love my children. More than life itself. I would do anything humanly possible to protect them. That’s why when they drive away to school, to work or to just hang with their friends I still worry about them.
I trust my children completely — maybe more than I should. I know they will make solid decisions. Oh, they will make stupid decisions too, we all do — I still do at 50 years of age. But I worry about them when they are out there in the world, in a place where I can not protect them. A place completely out of my control.
I also realize I can’t always be there. Part of growing up is learning to live on your own. To make choices. To live, and to learn.
That doesn’t stop me from wanting to protect them though.
And nothing stops me from wondering what more I could have, and should have, done as their father.
Despite being 50 years of age I have many young friends that are just starting their families. While I am not really in any position to give them advice — everyone parents differently — I will say this to them: You can not spend too much time with your kids. Trust me, you don’t want to be sitting there 10, 15, 20 years from now wishing you had done more as a parent. Enjoy your children while you can; be there for them every moment that is humanly possible. They grow up really really fast. Laugh with them, cry with them, share with them and love them like there is no tomorrow.