An acquaintance of mine very recently had their 8-year old son die from a freak infection. They came back from a cruise, kid was sick with stomach pains and diarrhea, went to the doctor undiagnosed, end up in the hospital with unknown infection or virus and died shortly thereafter (still don’t know the reason – maybe autopsy will help). Heartbreaking tragedy. I hugged my kids especially hard last night, trying to hold back the tears. I can’t imagine anything like that happening and how devastated my wife and I would be. Or for that matter, if my wife were to suddenly become ill or get in an accident. Seeing her through a breast cancer scare a few years ago was bad enough. I am blessed to have the life I do, but even still, I sometimes lose the spirit of gratitude and take things for granted.
In the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, it is easy to take our spouse and kids for granted. With end goals in place (getting ready for school, cleaning the house, sports or music practice, getting ready for bed, planting a garden, kicking ass at work, etc.) it is really easy, especially as a father, to be more drill sergeant task-master and to forget to enjoy the fleeting moments that are so awesome on a daily basis. I wrote about this before in the post A Father Sometimes Forgets – a powerful post about a father’s inability to enjoy the childhood moments and seeing and treating his young son more like a man. I sometimes have that problem too. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to someone else to snap you back to reality.
So yesterday, I took the kids to the pool and played sharks/minnows, I tried (unsuccessfully, as it so happens) to not be all lecture-dad as Loudboy couldn’t recall where he left his wallet with $20 he wanted to use to buy something, and played “lumpy pillow” with my son (where I lay on him and say “what a lumpy pillow I have” and try to fluff him – he loves it). We love our kids and want to teach them lessons, and it can be real hard to let them be just silly kids goofing off. There’s plenty of time for seriousness and structure as they become adults. The snuggles and watergun fights and Lumpy Pillow will all be gone way to soon. We can’t take those moments for granted as we still try to shape them. We need to stay involved in their boring activities and games and not bury ourselves in the iPad or book or television or our own interests. That’s a message for all of us to remember, and one I need to continue to remind myself.
While this mostly focuses on our kids, our spouse is as important. Finding quality time to spend with one another is important for long term marriage viability, but also for not taking each other for granted. And get the fights and issues resolved in short order instead of lingering. Imagine if you let a silly issue linger and cause resentment and he or she were to get into an accident. Wouldn’t you rather leave each day with a passionate kiss and your love on your sleeve for each other? It lifts the spirits, and if they were to fall ill, you’ll look back without regrets that the time spent on this planet with those you loved was filled with great times together. That you didn’t fall into the trap of being roommates or resenting each other. That you let it all hang out there and were a team most of the time.
So hug and kiss your kids and husband or wife, as you never know how much time you’ll have to enjoy them – it could be 60 years or could be 60 days. Don’t look back with regrets wishing you did something different or wrestle or played more. Live in the moment and while the days tend to take long (sometimes seeming like they’ll never end) the years run together way too quickly and this time with our loved ones or younger kids will be gone before we know it.