On life, presence, the speed of childhood and the perils of rushing

Last night I had some rare one-on-one time with my oldest, who will be 9 in what seems like a heartbeat. 

As I tucked him in, he asked me to sing him a song – something he hasn’t asked for in a while. I was feeling frustrated, tired, irritable, and just wanted him to go to sleep, but then I took a moment to realize the importance of what he was asking. I don’t always do that, in many aspects of my day-to-day routine. I find myself too caught up in the rush of work, parenting, and navigating life, and I don’t take time to listen. 

So I asked him what he wanted. We settled on “Hey Jude,” and after that, he asked for the song I used to sing to him every night as a baby: “Moonshadow.” So I sang that, too, and tried not to let the lump in my throat get in the way. As I did, he relaxed, sighed, snuggled up to me, put a hand on me, and closed his eyes. When it was over, he opened his eyes again and asked me, “How old are you again, Dad?” “48,” I told him. He thought about that for a moment, and a troubled look passed over his face. “I don’t want you to get older, Daddy,” he said. “And I hope your voice never changes because I really like the way your voice sounds when you sing to me, and I don’t want that to change if you get older.”  
It was a bittersweet moment for me. It was a reminder that life passes quickly, and that we all get older, and that our children grow in an instant, and it left me with tears in my eyes. It was a reminder that if I don’t slow down and take notice of each moment, instead of racing from one to the next, I’m going to miss the most important things in my children’s – and my own – life. 

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” My son’s words last night illustrated that perfectly, and were a reminder that I need to be present for the journey instead of focusing on, and rushing toward, the destination. 

be present in the moment, and focus on the journey, not the destination
My oldest son at a time that simultaneously seems like an age ago, and also the space of a heartbeat.

As the holidays near, think about the children

The holidays are right around the corner, and although they can bring us great joy, they can also bring sadness and stress – especially if a family has been split by divorce. With that in mind, I volunteered for this story, Split Decision, in our latest issue of Inspire Health. If you or someone you know is in one of the more than 43 percent of families that the Pew Research Center calls “nontraditional,” I hope┬áthis helps you navigate the sometimes tangled web of blended families, custody schedules and holiday happenings.

Too often, divorced parents can’t rise above bad feelings to work together for what’s best for their children. As one therapist I talked to for this story told me, “parents need to put on their big boy/big girl pants and deal with it, because this is about their kids.”

Also too often, relatives of divorcees make hurtful remarks or are unwilling to be flexible over the holidays. Not only does that add to the stress of the parent trying to juggle everything, it makes it harder on the children caught in the middle.

It’s important that everyone in the family works together – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, and step-relatives – to make the holidays happy for the children.