I just enjoyed a rare four day weekend with my family. Work has been hectic lately and I was looking forward to a little R&R. Now, to be honest, my vision of relaxation was a series of naps, a good book and maybe a few trips to the neighborhood pool. This vision faded around 10:00 am Friday morning when I saw the bored faces of my sons. The weather was beautiful, I was well caffeinated and Super Dad decided to take over! I figured I would give my wife a well deserved break and keep the kids entertained by filling our weekend with lots of glorious “manly” activities. So much for naps and a good book…
In the course of our four days together we visited the Chattahoochee River Nature Center, went swimming, went to Reconciliation as a family, took in a Braves baseball game Saturday afternoon, attended Mass, enjoyed great 4th of July fireworks, rode our bikes, watched Star Wars, built a model boat and ended with a trip to the driving range to hit golf balls. Wow! We did it! We filled the four days with all sorts of fun activities, my wife got a break and our manliness was triumphantly asserted. Time out for a quick visual-me beating my chest and letting out a Tarzan yell! What could possibly top this?
At dinner last night, as I fought back my exhaustion, I wanted to relive our weekend fun and asked the boys which activity they enjoyed most. I was thinking that surely they would say the baseball game or maybe the fireworks-they had so many fun memories to choose from! My nine year old, who is never at a loss for words, just said casually between bites of pasta, “It was all fun Dad, but we just liked hanging out with you all weekend.”
What a lesson for me and “Super Dads” everywhere. I thought by filling the weekend with fun activity I would keep my sons entertained and make them happy. But, all they wanted and really needed was quality time with me. We could have done anything or nothing all weekend, as long as we were together. My wonderful wife has often shared with me that the boys can’t wait for me to get home from work each day. I wonder how often I carry home the stress and fatigue of each day and just want to relax, rather than hang out with my family. I am always physically present, but I am ashamed to admit that my mind is some times distracted by the stresses of the day and the to do list for tomorrow.
We all had fun and we created some great memories this weekend, but the lesson for me is clear: spend more quality time with my family instead of being satisfied with simply being present. I will take this to the Lord in prayer today and ask for help and guidance to be the kind of husband and father He wants me to be. I will also pray for the intercession of St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers and a wonderful example of selfless love and devotion.
Remember Super Dads, it is not about activity and showing up. Our vocation as husbands and fathers is to help our families get to Heaven. Let’s slow down enough to set a good example, be present and give them the quality time they need…which in turn is a blessing right back to us.