Now why did I get so worked up? Well, this week I get to plan my own day, buy my own gift. It’s going to be exactly what I asked for this time! Now don’t get me wrong. Receiving my hand painted coffee mugs, various cards drawn with crayons, all the neckties and “best dad” shirts from my kids is awesome. Never mind that none of the shirts or ties matched anything in my closet except the ones that didn’t match anything for the last however many years now! I never did say anything but “Thank you. I love how much you love me” as their faces were overflowing with joy while they presented me each gift. No, that’s not what I’m talking about. I wouldn’t trade those memories for even a decade worth of youth elixir. I’m talking about how being a single dad affects whats about to happen to me and probably every other single father like me the first time they hit this mental mark of confusion and its final resolution. Do I feel excitement or guilt? Both, I feel both. Honestly, for me it means no dropping hints for a weeks or months about what gift or adventure I want to have dropped in my lap only to realize its not whatever thing I hinted at or even outright asked for. No more hints? Now that’s an exciting thought! On the other hand, there won’t be the anticipation of thinking dropped hints will somehow materialize as if I were a celebrity. Wait dads, we are celebrities; to our kids at least. So why am I feeling sad or guilty about it? I realized why I got so confused and decided on my reason to write about this thought process. Before now, their mom took them to shop for my gift. Now its up to me and I won’t let that joy be taken away from them. On to the next thought.
Each of my children get quality time with me individually and then we spend some quality time together as a group too. Anthony, my middle child, recently told me he felt bad about spending time together alone. He was feeling guilty that every adventure day we have together, we only do what he wants. He goes on to explain that the next block of time he gets, he wants for me to pick anything I want to. He’ll just come along with me on my adventure next time. Yeah I love this kid’s heart. Its made of gold. I had the “aha” moment you always hear about and long for. My kids never wanted to give me gifts on Fathers Day or birthdays. That’s not what made their tiny faces and big round eyes beam with joy. It was the memories we made in those tiny slivers of time when we told each other thank you, gave big hugs and said our I Love You’s after they gave whatever gift they made or bought. So there we have it. My discovery:
Your kids just want you to be happy and thankful. They want to just spend time with YOU. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re engaged with them both as an individual and as a family.
Dads, as you approach this holiday and think about what you’re getting (or aren’t getting, Ha!), proceed with the right goal in mind. Give your kids the best gift you can ever give a child – your love and attention. Say thanks even if you didn’t get what you wanted, because its from their heart. One day, when their little faces grow up on you, they will remember how much you showed them that you loved them.
How do you share your love and attention with your kids on Father’s Day?