Today is Valentine’s Day. Normally I would be consumed with the idea of being somewhere special with someone special. I would allow myself to worry about gifts, chocolate, and ensuring proper hygiene. I would think about what I need to wear and whether or not this cologne I found in my old gym bag is any good. It’s only fitting the symbol of Valentine’s Day is a heart given all the anxiety it produces.
Instead, I am sitting at home with my kids. My Valentine’s date is my daughter and her trusty sidekick. Our special dinner is Mac N Cheese followed by Capri Sun and bite-sized Kit Kats they received at school. Our source of entertainment is me pinning Daniel down while my chocolate lab licks his face. Good thing I did it before I gave him his bath for the night.
I feel truly blessed when it comes to my children. First and foremost, they are strong and healthy, very loving and affectionate, and just fun to be around. Since they live with their mother, my time with them is relatively limited. Even though I do see them every day, I don’t see them quite as much as when I still lived at home. As a result, I greatly value my time with them. Where some people may allow their children to seep into the category of things that cause them stress, Natalie and Daniel are my stress relief.
From playing around the open areas of my apartment complex, to taking them to the pool (in the summer, of course), to the occasional – albeit incredibly expensive – trips to Disney, being with my kids allows me to escape the pressures of my current world. Being with them forces me to focus on what’s important, primarily their safety, their well being, and their happiness.
It’s not, however, candy and roses all the time. Natalie is six going on sixteen, and she is a constant reminder of a marriage that once was. That is to say, she is just like her mother and can be at times a bit ….. demanding. As for Daniel, it is apparent that logic does not exist in the world of a four-year-old boy. Unless it flashes brightly, has four wheels, or roars and explodes, he wants nothing to do with it.
As with all children, my kids present their own set of challenges. I like to think, however, that unlike most dads, I see myself as the solver of those challenges. I see myself as the enabler of their future. I see myself as the architect of something greater down the road. If I allow myself to worry about my kids, it’s usually about where they will be five years from now, ten years from now, and the role I play in making that outcome possible.
Please don’t get me wrong. There are so many great dads out there. So many dads against which I don’t even compare or come close. I am by no means perfect and I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that rather than consume myself with the little things in life, I choose to consume myself with the biggest and greatest thing I know …. being a dad to my kids