Both of my kids had graduated from college and were living about three hours away when it really hit me. I said to my wife: “Wow, the thing I was best at and most fulfilled by is kind of over.” I’m a Dad that can say “I’m glad I did” instead of “I wish I had” but there really isn’t anything to replace the meaningfulness and joy of Dading. Even though we have a wonderful relationship with our kids, and get to see them fairly often, there is a lot I miss.
I miss the busy-ness. We were always going somewhere and doing something. Dropping off, picking up, attending performances, going to events, shopping for all manner of things, creating things, fixing things, imagining things, cooking things and building things. My daughter is an extrovert and there was always something going on outside of the home. She was so much fun to watch grow, accomplish, explore, lead and excel. My son, an introvert, brought much contemplation, discussion, depth, and engagement in the inner world of ideas, philosophy, art, and experience. My son and I also spent a lot of time involved in competitive shooting sports where 95% of the time is spent driving to and from events, standing around waiting for your turn to shoot and time spent preparing for the next shoot. I always felt privileged to be with him, and still do, but I miss the volume of time I got with my guy buddy.
What I miss the most is the laughter. As I write that sentence I feel a deep sense of longing. We laughed at everything, we teased, scared each other, played jokes and did so many funny things. My kids were the most entertaining people I’ve ever known. Dinners were especially wonderful as I made sure dinner-time was never used for addressing any “issues”. My daughter once came home from a middle school bible study and told us they had to describe their family dinner time in one sentence. She expressed sadness and surprise as she talked about the difficulties some of her classmates were facing. Of course her mom and I were on the edge of our seats wondering what she shared with the group. Finally she said “I felt bad, but all I could say was ‘laughing all the time’”. We still laugh a lot when they’re home or when we visit. But its different. I guess I miss the immaturity of it all.
We were fully engaged parents and truly enjoyed ever aspect and every age, as we do now. Life was just so rich while they were growing up. In contrast, we now sit around a lot, its quiet, we watch more TV than we use to and pretty much wait for the kids to call. That’s not a complaint, just an observation. Life is good, just very different than it was.
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