I think working parents should stop feeling guilty that they don”t spend enough time with their children, they should stop worrying that their kids won’t get to know them or remember them when they’re gone because they spend more days of the week at work and only weekends with their kids.
Because when it comes to spending time with our children , just as how it is with so many other things, quality still trumps quantity. It’s not how much time we spend with our children that will matter, it’s the quality of the time we spend with them. This, I learned from my late father who’s celebrating his birthday today.
You see, my dad died when I was six years old. But I have so many fond memories of my father. I remember him. I remember him more now that I’m a parent. I remember how he made me feel so happy and loved.
My mother told me he was a workaholic, he loved his job, he was so dedicated to his profession he worked very very hard. But he was also a great father. How was this possible you might ask?
My father worked very hard, and focused on his work, on weekdays, but after clocking out every Friday he became a father and nothing else. Whenever I’d hear his car beeping outside every Friday I’d rush out of the house and jump up and down to welcome him home. And he’d scoop me up and carry me. He used to carry me around everywhere. And I spent so many fun weekends with my Daddy.
His work had him from Monday to Friday but we had him from Friday night till Monday morning. He was my funny, silly, loving dad who would take me to buy comics, take me out to get a haircut, or buy me a cake. Weekends were spent grocery shopping, watching movies ,swimming with the family, eating out, going out of town, or visiting relatives.
Weekends were for making memories. I remember dreading Sunday night because I knew our weekend will be over and I’d have to wait a week to spend time with my Dad again.
And although weekends didn’t seem enough, my dad made weekends special and memorable. He made sure we make memories on the few hours we got to spend with him.
I felt that he was a hands on dad who was really there, when he was there. He would look me in the eye and listen to my stories, talk to me as if I was so important. He made me feel heard, he made me feel loved. He made sure to make the most out of the limited time we got to spend with him.
On weekends he wasn’t the government official building dams for farmers, he wasn’t the guy delivering speeches and cutting ribbons. He wasn’t a boss running the office. He was funny, crazy, quirky Daddy who would walk around the house with cotton balls up his nose because he was pretending to be dead (yes he was that kinda dad). He was the crazy Dad who took me to a horror train ride, and after I screamed my head off, pulled the costume off one of the guys to prove that they’re not real so I won’t be scared anymore.
He’s the silly daddy who tried opening the zipper of a mascot to show me that there’s a person inside because I was so scared of mascots when I was little. He was my Daddy who would lead the prayer whenever we’d visit relatives in the cemetery, and then halfway thru his prayer say funny things to make everyone laugh.
He was my dad who taught me how to make cucumber ensalada. He was my patient father who taught me how to read, and then laugh out loud when ever I’d pretend to be able to read stuff but just make up words based on the pictures because I was bored.
I remember exactly how I felt when he took me to see a water fountain. It was just me and him and he plopped me right in front of the water close enough so I can touch it. It had pink and purple lights and there were so many other kids around it. I remember thinking that it was the happiest day of my life not knowing my Dad was going to die soon.
My father died when I was very little, and I only got to spend weekends with him but I remember him clearly. I remember his voice. How he looked, the sound of his laugh. His smile. I have so many fond memories of my dad even if he died more than 25 years ago.
Because he spent quality time with his children. The little time he got to spend with us were filled with memories I got to save in my memory bank. Memories I carry with me until now. Whenever I miss him and my mom I just close my eyes and I feel like I’m back to those time when I was with them again.
What I learned from him is that quality is much more important. We have to be physically, mentally, and emotionally present with our children even if we only have a few hours to spend with them.
Some of us are blessed with so much time with our children, but if we spend it only half listening to them while our eyes are glued to our phones, what memories are we making with them? How are we making them feel?
Is this how we want them to remember us when we’re gone? A hazy memory of dad or mom , they can barely recall because we thought spending long hours with them was enough.