I agree with many dads that the best gifts are the ones our children draw, paint, color or paste together. I’ve kept many such gifts in a box, pulled them out from time to time and see the notes I wrote on them about where we were, how old the girls were and what they were wearing when they gave the gifts to me.
Doing that has provided me with an opportunity to look back and take an inventory of myself and where I was in that season of life. I can remember being a dad whose children had not yet entered grade school. I thought time stood still as my wife and I were changing diapers, mixing formula, and rocking and rocking and rocking them to sleep. As parents, we thought we would becaught in this black hole forever.
Then came the school years, from pre-K to college. This was a season of letting my two girls, Abbie and Annie, start making decisions—and understanding their decisions had consequences. They also spent time with a group of girls, and developed meaningful longtime friendships. The time also came when Abbie and Annie started dating.
I survived these different seasons of life, and I learned just as much as my two girls did. In many ways, we grew up together. Here are 10 things I learned as a single dad, a married dad and a dad who has lost a child way too earlier in life:• Change diapers always with a light on (you need to see the mess)• Buy a big rocking chair so both of you have plenty of room• Buy the cheapest furniture for the house until your kids get into high school• Tell your wife when she is pregnant, “Honey you look radiant”• Go to all the school plays and school events, and meet and get to know their teachers• Look at their homework every night, even if you’re not a great speller or knowledgeable about the subject• Go to the University of Georgia or Georgia Southern University (the best)• Don’t worry about their room in college; worry about who they are rooming with• Give them a debit card, not cash; you will worry about money only at the end of the month• Teach them to be responsible with money, and to understand that it is their parents who are footing the bill for college
Dads have many experiences along the way. What is the one thing that truly makes us happy? It is being able to hold our children in our arms and protect them from all that life will throw at them. This is not always possible, because we must let them live their own lives. And time moves our children toward new places and experiences.
Whatever season of life you’re in now, be sure to spend time with your kids and mentor them. Start today if you haven’t yet done so, because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. ThatI do know.