If you have ever been on a cruise, then you know how exciting it can be to visit multiple exotic locations in just a matter of days. My wife and I recently took a cruise down to the Bahamas. As the ship made port at our first stop, Nassau, we were allowed to exit the boat to explore the island. As with any cruise, there was a set time in the morning that we were able to leave the ship and a set time we had to be back on board that afternoon. I’m not a beach person, so making it back to the ship on time was no problem for me. My wife, on the other hand, would still be there if it were up to her.
As parents, we only have so much time on “the island” with our kids. Who we are profoundly influences who they will become. I am by no means a perfect parent; I am nowhere close, but I am striving to get better every day. I understand that we as parents have a lot going on. We have a million different things that we have to get done. So often our kids can get pushed onto the back burner while we are out saving the world. There is a reason Batman, Iron Man, and Super Man didn’t have kids.
This begs the question. Which is more important right now? In 20 years which will be more important? In twenty years, my kids will be 21 and 23. They will be pretty much done with school and about to begin their adult lives. While who I am as a man is not the sole determining factor when it comes to their success in life. It does play a significant role. I consider myself lucky to be at the beginning of this 20 year window. I believe the most painful thought a parent could ever have is, “What could have been.”
I have never heard a parent talk about how they spent too much time with their kids. I have never heard a parent complain about all the quality time they had with their children. I have never heard of someone on their death bed that wished they had made one more sales call. The stories I have heard is of parents that regret wasting their lives chasing things that, in the grand scheme of things, meant nothing. They do, however, wish they could go to one more soccer game. They wish they could read one more bed time story. They wish they had just been there.
I do not want to be remembered by my kids for how great a salesman I was or how nice I kept the yard manicured. I want to be remembered as a daddy that cared. I want to be a dad who is remembered for stopping what I was doing to get on the floor to play “vroom vrooms” with my little boy. I want to give my daughter someone to compare guys to one day. I want for them to know that they mean more to me than my hobbies, my job, or my self image. In 20 years I hope to have been all of those things and more.
My parents actually just got back from a cruise to Alaska. After they boarded the ship one afternoon, my dad sat out on his balcony to watch people arrive back to the ship. He watched as they untied the ship from the docks and pulled in the gangplanks. Just after the ship was completely detached from the dock, two people came around the corner on their way to the boat. There was a distance of about 100 yards, and he said they were running. The ship, unfortunately for them, had already begun to move. As they reached the dock the ship was a mere 15 feet away, but it was to late. The ship had sailed. They did eventually make it back aboard, but it involved some rather costly airline travel to meet at the next port.
Don’t miss the boat. We only have so long to hold our children close. As parents, I hope that we do not get too distracted with life that we miss the things that are really important. Is shooting a 78 as opposed to a 82 on the golf course really worth missing out on your kids lives. I would hate when I’m old and grey to here my kids say, “Well, he wasn’t much of a dad, but he could sure hit a golf ball.” How do you want to be remembered? Today is tomorrow’s memory. Let’s make a lasting impression. Any man can father a child; it takes a real man to be a “dad”.
How do you want to be remembered?