As a dad of twenty-seven years, I have learned that there are a few things that really matter to my family. I have learned these through some successes and a few failures. I certainly don't have it all figured out, but here are a few things I know to be true.
Every day we have a choice: relationships or stuff. One friend, Dr. Dick Foth says, “There are two things we deal with in life: money and relationships, and only one of them can make you happy.”
Healthy relationships are based on trust, respect, and love for each other. Life is too short to allow these things to break down in our relationships. If you want to enjoy life, enjoy the people you are with, and that begins in the home. If we would take the same attitude toward relationships as we do securing our future, we would have less stuff and be more content.
When it comes to dad relationships, there is no substitute for time. It is one thing we cannot get back. I can't tell you how many tea parties we had as a family. I ate more plastic fruit and hot doges from the girls kitchen set than I can count. Those days are long behind us; Now, we look for reasons to celebrate together, and when we do, we go to Dairy Queen, and we will celebrate anything. "How was your day?" Someone asks. "It's was ok, nothing special," is the reply. "That's great, you survived the day, let's celebrate."
Some girls play competitive sports, mine did not. They all had very brief softball careers in elementary school. My girls traded in sports for music and dance lessons. So instead of sitting on the sidelines cheering, I was in the seats at ballet, piano, and violin recitals. To be fair, Kristi did have a short cup-stacking season. Let me be clear, I enjoyed every moment, and I was so proud of each level of advancement my girls had in their particular skills. My second daughter, Brittany, did take up gymnastics and cheerleading. At least there was competition; someone won and someone lost, and someone got a trophy. While many were cheering for the football team, I was the guy in the stands cheering for the cheerleaders. When my youngest daughter joined the marching band and drumline team, I was excited again. This time, I had a chance to really get involved. I drove the equipment truck – and loved it. There were some late nights studying in the truck for the next message while the team rehearsed to “take the floor.” But I was present.
My mom demonstrated this to me as well. She was present for me, even when she had no understanding of what I was doing. She was at my baseball and basketball games. She was my biggest fan when, as an eleven year old, I scored a basket for the opposing team. She was at every concert I played in and every play I acted in.
I think the reason why I like the Baltimore Orioles so much is that my uncles took me to the game in old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. It is a reminder to me of the men in my life that cared enough to let me be around them. Although I did not have a dad, my uncles and the men in the church made sure positive male role models surrounded me.
I am thankful for my wife, who reminded me how short our time is with our girls.
She was right.