Fathers ask themselves questions like this: Have I been a good dad, a loving husband, a good friend? Have I been successful in my career, and an example for my children to follow?
For a long time, I thought the main responsibility of being the “man of the house” was to provide for my family’s physical needs — and that was how the world decided if someone’s life was successful.
The job of providing is more in line with getting a paycheck. It was my task to make sure my family had what they needed, not necessarily what they wanted. The danger point comes when a husband starts becoming just a paycheck, or he begins to love the financial gains and successes of his job more than he loves his family and his time with them. I was in my late 40s when I began this slow spiral downward and noticed it happening. I was spending more time at work than with my children and my wife.
I could see only that closing the deal was more important than my daughters’ birthdays, volleyball games and basketball games. Buying a new car every three years was more important than attending church with them on Sundays. Each of us who has made these types of decisions could come up with hundreds of reasons about why we felt something else was more important.
Fast-forward to the present. At age 62, I look in the rearview mirror and realize that no amount of success or resources can bring back my daughter, Abbie, who was taken from us at age 21.
I find myself wanting to pick up the phone and call Abbie, just one more time, to make up for missed proms, slumber parties, pizza nights and morning hugs. And then I think about my other daughter, Annie. She is an extraordinary young woman, with qualities similar to Abbie’s, who is achieving so much. She is an inspiration and continues in the good works that Abbie started during her 21 short years.
So, when tomorrow’s choices come up, I hope you might reflect on my experiences and attend that birthday party, or simply be more present with your family in the moment.