I know this topic is a tad off my usual subject matter, but an important one nonetheless.
I'm really enjoying my children lately - always have - but life as a daddy has been especially good lately. That may sound strange to you, but my wife and I have four children, ages fifteen through nine and our world gets really crazy at times. Yet with all the wackiness, we managed to have a great weekend. I spent quite a bit of time with each one of them, doing something they enjoy, like playing video games, making necklaces, writing, reading, boxing, wrestling. And now, as you can imagine, I'm exhausted, muscles sore, head aching and in need of a little peace and quite.
I'll confess, there were times over the course of the last several years where I put other things ahead of them, not always, but times. I'm sure I had my list of reasons, all justified in my eyes: quotes were due, had to finish the job, chapters almost done, you name it. But the thing is, I always hated myself later. When I finished whatever it was that kept me from them, I was always filled with remorse.
Children grow up way too fast, sometimes leaving before we're ready for them to go. They watch and learn and observe our mannerisms, imitate our dialect and mirror our integrity. As I was thinking about this, I thought of the moments I've failed and then remembered the things I've done right and then sighed, somewhat pleased that although I've not been perfect, I know that I've not been absent.
As a writer, it's very easy to be absent, because writing is such a solitary act. The very thought of interruptions, just about gives me a migrain. And so I have to be very careful, and my wife does a great job at making sure I lift my head up and engage in our family. On my own, I'm afraid the story, or the platform building, or the emailing would consume me. In fact, I know it would. My nature is to keep my head down, driving forward like a Wisconsin snow plow, smashing mail boxes and digging up sod along the way!
The point is, absent fathers suck and they come in an assortment of colors: emotionally absent, physically absent, financially absent, and spiritually absent. They breed absent teenagers, absent citizens, absent husbands and absent daddys. And when they look back on their life they shrivel up and die with regret, because when an absent father finally lifts his head and discovers that no one is there, he looks back and wonders what it was that pulled him away, what was so damn important that took precedence over his family.
Absent fathers suck. Don't be an absent father or mother. Write, read, create, but live your life with balance, frequently taking time to laugh and wrestle and talk with your children. If you choose to give your family the scraps of your life, you'll regret it for all eternity. But you'll never regret keeping your head up and engaging with your children. BOOM!