Daddies & Daughters: Making Your Kids A Hobby
I know how lucky I was to have the stability of both a mother and father growing up. Being a divorce attorney for the last eleven years, I know that truth about my life now more than ever. My mother was lucky enough to be able to stay home with us. She cooked, made sure we made it to school and finished homework, while Dad traveled more days than he was home. But when he was there, he was never ancillary to our daily family life. My father was active, involved and dedicated to his role as a father. We were as important to him as anything else in the world.
While he traveled a lot and was given ample time to himself, when he was home for long periods of time, his parenting did not include long periods of devotion to his own hobbies. He was often fond of saying that having kids was his hobby. I thought that was so odd of him to say when I was growing up. It’s only after being a parent myself, do I know how hard this must have been for him to actually manage.
There were plenty of things to occupy his time. He liked to work out and had a varying bent towards being artistic. There were no late nights at the bar with his buddies. If the once baseball player in him was needing to re-emerge, he signed up to coach our softball and baseball little league teams. At the end of the day, the three of us kids was where he expended most of his energy and time.
In addition to kids, he was also consistently pursuing love of a woman. He was always finding ways to romance my mother. It was an active and open endeavor he often talked about with us kids. If we were to catch them dancing and kissing in the kitchen, we’d gag and feign disgust. Laughing, he would explain loving our mother was another one of the gifts of earth for him. I had no idea how much watching them together would set the stage for the kind of marriage I wanted in my own life.
Each day we parents are inundated with reminders to be “better”, to “do better” in our parenting. If you are like me, these reminders and so called encouragement to our parenting makes me want to curl in a corner and drool. I often feel as though I am counting the minutes until naptime and then bedtime. The thought of making my kids my front and center sometimes causes me to shake. There never seems to be enough time.
Yet, Dad, like most things to which he was wise, was right about this too. I do want my kids to see me be autonomous from them. Having goals and dreams are not only good for me, but it is also good for them. I tell them often that should I provide their every need at the exact moment they need it, adulthood will only disappoint them.
But perhaps, even if only in their presence, I should strive to make them the front and center of my attention. For my own kids, this includes their particular sports and friends.I may be writing and working and dreaming behind their backs and while they are at school. However, when they are home, I want them to see their roles in my life is something I enjoy as much as my other endeavors. This can only be a positive reminder of the top priority they hold in my life. This time will never come again and down time is so, SO important for our sanity. Yet, let us decide our children shall always receive more time from their parents than our hobbies.