By Stephen Doherty
March 13th, 2022
You will never look back on life and think,
“I spent too much time with my kids.” -Author Unknown
Throughout our lives, few things yielded as much happiness and satisfaction as winning free stuff! Whether it was watching the pinball machine rack up free games or getting a coupon for a free prize or event or being in Las Vegas and winning enough money so that you played the whole night on the casino’s dime. Winning “stuff” is fun!
There is a part of us that celebrates ampleness, that little extra measure of anything beyond what we bargained for or actually needed. That feeling we get when we left the house with ten dollars and came back with twenty – for whatever reason. These occasions were rare which is probably what made them so special and memorable.
Being a dad, I share a common experience with millions of other dads in terms of raising kids and creating enough great memories to fill the voids of later life with the sweet reminiscing of happy days gone by. In many ways, being a dad is like being a farmer. We work, day and night, to make sure we’ve done all the right things to ensure a quality crop – and then we enjoy the fruits of our labor – savoring the delicious bounty of our toil and sweat.
At some point, our farming days will be over and what remains in the pantry will have to sustain us. As parents, it seems like we blink and suddenly the sum total of our lives is consolidated into photo albums and the dimming hallways of our memories. It’s not happy or sad – it’s just life. Time with our kids is borrowed from the future as we prepare them for the rest of their own lives.
That’s why I have felt like a lottery winner the last couple of years. For societal, cultural, and economic circumstances too wild and unpredictable to have ever anticipated – I have had the pleasure of my adult children living with me. My son moved in mid-pandemic and stayed for a year while he worked remotely. My daughter then graduated college and has been with me for a year as she has started her own career while saving a little money for a rainy day.
For me? It’s extra innings! A chance to enjoy a few more special moments together with my kids. The opportunity to join them on those last few steps into full adulthood while clinging momentarily to everything that once was. God has provided a way station for a few more special moments and extended farewells. A few more movie nights. A few more joy-filled days of that love-filled proximity that is all too fleeting.
There is an old school of thought that suggests that booting the bird from the nest is the most effective means of teaching it too fly. There are some who view adult children living at home as a postponement of the inevitable (and necessary) rite of passage of independence. Traditionalists might even equate adult children living at home as a crippling degree of coddling.
I disagree. I think that adulthood is a journey of such immense time and distance, that postponing it is hardly going to diminish it. I also believe that those few extra months of “lingering” behind with your family – will provide all involved with dividends of unspeakable value! For me? A few extra nights, for whatever reason, of my kids closing their bedroom doors down the hall with a “Good night, Dad – love you” is a gift without equal – a gesture without peer.
Forever, is right around the corner. But what say we have one more cup of hot chocolate and a few more cookies before you go?
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” –Winnie the Pooh