How is Summer Over Already? A Working Dad’s Lament

Didn’t my kids just get out of school like yesterday?

The last thing I remember, I was looking at Instagram pictures of my kids on their last day of school. Their friends were smiling. Their teachers were smiling (because they finally got a break from my kids.) Everybody was smiling.

Except for the parents. The parents had that look of impending doom on their faces because we had to figure out how we were going to entertain our children for eight hours a day all summer long.

We have spent every waking moment this summer (and by we I mean my wife because I’ve been at work interacting with adults and generally living a pretty stress-free life) entertaining our children.

We’ve sent them to church camp, archery camp, Lego camp, art camp, horseback riding lessons and Hogwarts camp.

They go back to school in three weeks, and they have spent nearly every day doing something extracurricular.

And until now, I’ve been there for basically none of it.

Our family has made the decision that I will be the one to have a traditional job and spend my day at work, while my wife spends her days wrangling children, grocery shopping and running all the errands.

To say that I’m thankful for her would be the world’s biggest understatement.

But there is a small part of me that gets jealous of all the time that she gets to spend with them. She gets to be there to take videos of my 8-year-old at archery camp or my 6-year-old at Lego robotics camp.

I know what I signed up for.

I knew when the summer started that my kids were doing a ton of activities and that I was going to be absent for almost all of them.

I am currently sitting in a house on the Oregon coast with my wife and three daughters. We have spent the days chasing each other through the water, playing chess, eating junk food and generally having an amazing time.

There is way too much going on at work for me to be here. Every five minutes I’m tempted to check my phone for work emails because I’m sure that something is burning down, and while my company has 74,000 employees, I clearly am the integral cog in the machine who’s absence could bring the whole thing to a grinding halt.

But I’ve resisted.

I’ve missed enough of the summer already and I’ve committed myself to be present for these next few days.

I will ignore emails, texts, and Slack messages until I get back into the office. The work will still be there when I get back (unfortunately.)

I will not be a slave to the push notification of my work email (which is why I’ve turned notifications off for six days in a row. Somebody give me a trophy.)

I need to be the person who can be relied on, but more importantly than that, I need to be present for my kids. I need them to know that their dad will run in the ocean with them no matter how cold it is. I need them to know that I will let them eat Lucky Charms and Oreos and not think twice about it.

I need them to know that there is nothing in this world more important to me than they are.

I may miss out on some experiences, but I’m certainly not about to let this one slip away.

Growing up, my dad worked an incredibly demanding job. One that took him away from us for days at a time. But somehow, he always managed to be there for the things that really mattered.

Soccer games. Band recitals. Family camping vacations at the lake.

Whatever it was, he set the example that work is important, but not if it means you have to sacrifice your sanity and family for it.

So with that said, I’m signing off.

I’ve got a kite to fly, a sand castle to build. Summer’s almost over, and I don’t want to miss another moment of it. 

 

Stephen Carter is a writer, husband, father, & friend. He lives in Portland with his wife Rachel, and 3 beautiful girls, Avery, Rylee, & Hattie. When he’s not reading or writing, he enjoys a local micro-brew, or a strong cup of coffee. He is passionate about literature, theology, justice, Daniel Day-Lewis movies, U2 records (but with strong reservations about No Line on the Horizon), and believes that the right words can change the world. He can be found on: Twitter: @stephenedwardc

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