Early this morning, I started thinking about what I would share for #FlashbackFriday. Digging through some old tweets, I ran across an article I retweeted last year.
Looking at the summary, I was fairly certain I knew what the article was about, even though I couldn’t remember reading it. With our recent cross-country move, I’ve made very little time be with my kids. It’s been years since I’ve felt this overwhelmed with life – updating resumes, websites and portfolios. Trying to figure out what’s next for me – an IT job, a career change or school. Trying to keep up with this blog – trip reports, gear reviews and editing photos. All the while working odd jobs so that we have some income, even if it is minimal. At times, I can’t help but feel that I am failing as a father and a husband.
I was reluctant to click on the link to that article. But I did. And as I started reading, it became obvious that I’m the person the blogger is describing. I am that guy – the one thumbing through Facebook or texting my friends while my oldest son (Ethan) is running through a playground, the one spending the day at a theme park with my family, but wishing we were camping or wandering through the woods instead.
This wasn’t something that I wanted to hear right now.
My wife, on the other hand, does an incredible job getting Ethan excited about many of the things they do together:
- going to a theme park
- playing board games
- going for an evening walk
- repeated visits to the zoo
I’ve often thought “if I’m a good father, shouldn’t I enjoy doing these things?” I wanted to stop reading, but figured “I might as well finish, I’m going to be thinking about this all day now anyway.” I read on:
I suddenly realized that those things that my wife does so well with our son are things that she enjoys. I don’t enjoy them and I tend to only do them for someone.The last time I read a book purely for pleasure was 2001. I read because I didn’t have a TV or internet; to check email I paid by the hour at an internet cafe. I have no use for themes parks; I can puke riding the tea cups. I’ve never liked board games. I’ve never enjoyed walking for the sake of walking. If I’m not climbing a mountain or hiking a trail, I’m not that interested. I see no need for a year membership at the zoo. I’m fairly certain I can see everything I want to see in half an afternoon. Ethan really enjoys doing all of these things and I’ve felt horrible for not being excited about doing them. I’ve tried to fake it, but I know he can see through this.
My best memories of time spent with Ethan are from those days that we were doing something that interests me:
- playing hooky from school and work to go hiking
- playing in the Virgin River in Zion
- showing him how to setup our tent
- taking his wagon down the biggest hills we could find
- sitting in our Nova last week, re-enacting the opening scene from Cars.
Most don’t see these things as important, but this is where we connect. I’m exited, he’s exited, and we’re both happy. While I still need to participate in those activities that don’t excite me, I realize that I shouldn’t feel bad about not being excited; I don’t have to love something just because my son wants to do it or because I’m doing it with my family. To improve as a father and husband, I have to find more things that we can all enjoy, so that I am truly doing something WITH them rather than FOR them.
With such a busy schedule, it’s really easy for me to go days or weeks without really being WITH my family. My wife and I talk about doing stuff, but something comes up. I get busy or forgot about something I committed to doing. Latley, it’s even been hard to do something for myself. It’s been almost two months since I’ve hiked or gone to the gym – the longest I’ve gone without doing either for 5+ years! Sometimes the only way to break out of these slumps is to schedule something.