This year, I am going to do things a little differently. Well, A LOT differently.
I fear I have become one of THEM – those tired, weary fathers I see making their way home on the train each day. You know who I’m talking about. The ones who like to make jokes about hiding in their basement to watch the football game. Yeah, them.
I don’t want to be one of THOSE guys. I don’t want my children to grow up like Britney Spears, raised by Bratz dolls on some kind of Godless culture where little girls are told to act like supermodels and boys are immersed in countless images of violence while Daddy is busy at work or hiding out watching the game on TV.
This year, when I come home completely exhausted and cranky from a nightmare client meeting to the point that all I want to do is focus on my own sad little problems, instead I’ll focus on you.
This year, when you ask me in your completely sweet and tiny little voice if I’m mad, and when I see you peering up at me as if the look on Daddy’s face could make or break your world, I will make sure to smile because you’re worth it.
This year, I won’t allow myself to become so lost in all of my problems that I don’t see you out of the corner of my eye pretending to be shaving just like Daddy. I will stop myself and watch you trying your hardest to make sense of your world and the people God placed in it, and will take the time to help you on this journey called life.
This year, I will make sure to ask you what your favorite food is, what your favorite color is and what you want to be when you grow up. I will take the time to understand what things are important to you, what questions you have and how I can help you become the person you want to be.
This year, when I have to choose between that super important meeting that “absolutely can’t be missed” and a piano recital, I’ll make the right choice because after all you’ll never be this age again and no money is enough enticement for me to miss YOUR childhood.
And when the kitchen ceiling starts leaking because you decided to stuff five rolls of toilet paper (and God knows what else) in the upstairs toilet thus causing a torrent of water to come cascading down on the night’s supper, rather than screaming at you I shall take the opportunity to dance with you in the rain. After all, what’s a little water when weighed against the unwitting damage that my angry voice could do?
This year, I will read “Goodnight, Moon” at least once a month. I will read it to you just like my mother read it to me, in a soft, whispering voice that speaks of a parent’s warm, soft embrace. I will read it that way because that is how my mother read it to me and I want you to feel as loved as I did when I was a child. I owe you that, at least.
And on Sunday afternoons, when that weekend lull hits and I start feeling tired to the point that I’m counting the minutes until you fall asleep and I too can go to bed, I will remind myself that a day will come in the not too distant future that I will wish I could go back to that very moment and do it all over again. I will stop wishing the day would go faster, or the night would come quicker. I will stop looking forward to tomorrow, or next week, or next month. I will remain in the here and the now because you are here with me here and now and one day you won’t be here anymore.
And this year, I will always remember that each of you are only visiting. That one day I will turn around and you won’t be here anymore and as much as I wish you were still here there will be nothing I can do to get you back.
And so, every night when I come home from work I will take at least 5 minutes just to look at you. To see how you’ve changed, to see what you’ve learned and to really know you as a person. I will listen to your day’s stories with all of my heart and attention, even if the only thing I want is to eat dinner.
This year, I won’t rush through your bedtimes stories as if I’m somewhere else, all the time thinking about something that someone said at work, forgetting to act out the lines or make that funny Elmo voice. And when you ask me to read that one incredibly long story that seems to take forever, I won’t beg you to pick something else. I will read it because I am your father and if I don’t read it to you, who else will?
This year, I will stop to listen when you laugh. I will let your laughter fill my heart with gladness and joy, for if a man can’t find salvation in the laughter of a child then he simply isn’t a man.
This year, I will make every moment with you count. I won’t allow my mind to wander on to all of those other concerns that plague the 30 something mind. I will tell my mind to stop wandering, to stop searching for answers when right before me is the beauty of God and that nothing in all the world can be more important than really knowing you.
And if I have done my job, at the end of this year I will feel as if it was a year well spent.
Sure, I will be sad because you and I will be a year older and our time left together will inevitably be shorter. Alas, there is not much I can do about that. But at least I will know who you are, how you think, what you like and what you ARE like. I will have been there during all of the good moments and the bad ones too when you really needed me. I will have been the father God asked me to be on the very day you were conceived and your life was set into motion.
All of this is true. But even more importantly, I will not feel as if I have squandered my time with you on this earth on account of such trivial concerns as work or money or the big baseball game on TV. If all goes to plan, I will not find myself crying as I am now typing these very words, filled with sorrow for all of the wonderful things about you that I missed, wishing for the return of a year that will never come again in a life as precious, special and truly holy as your’s.
I will finally have loved you, as a father should. And THAT, sweet child, shall be my New Year’s Resolution.