As I pulled into the driveway of our suburban Kansas City home, I was exhausted. The last four days that I spent in New Orleans were filled with emotion and coming to my senses as to who I am as a father.
As I unloaded my bags from the trunk of our Honda Civic, I was mentally preparing myself for the barrage of greetings that were waiting for me just beyond the door. I opened the door and walked up the stairs, and just beyond the baby gate, my family so excited to see me that the baby gate barely had room to open.
“Daddy!” I heard from both William and Joseph.
As excited as they were to see me, there was an equal amount of excitement for me to see them. I held both of them in my arms. It didn’t take too long for the memories of the Dad 2.0 Summit to fill me again and quickly remind myself that I am a good father despite the day-to-day drudgery that we all go through.
Growing Up Happens Every Day
In what seems like an everyday occurrence, I kiss my wife and say hello, catching up on what little small talk we can in between the endless amount of stories that William wants to tell us. I set my bags down and kneel down to be able to talk to William and Joseph who has been wandering around the house for the last day saying, “Dada?”
I can only wander what it was like seeing Joseph wander around the house asking for me from the stories that my wife was telling me through the brief conversations on Facetime that we were able to fit it, and even then, it was like having a dinner conversation that was entirely one-sided with William right there next to her on the phone.
But after my wife left to go pick up the pizza we had ordered just to make dinner easier for us that night, I had a chance to play with William and Joseph. While we were playing in the same manner of climbing all over dad as we had only five days prior, it felt like I had been gone for months.
I Saw My Kids Grow Up Right Before My Eyes
For a brief moment, I was able to catch both William and Joseph standing next to each other before they jumped on my stomach. As I caught my breath, it seemed as though my kids have grown up right then and there at that moment.
I had only been gone for four days (5 if you ask my wife) and there I was laying on our living room floor, and it seemed that my kids had grown up so much in those days while I was gone. Why hadn’t I seen this before?
What was it about those days in New Orleans that made it felt like my kids were suddenly teenagers? Sure, William has a girlfriend that he is afraid to talk to us about and Joseph finally started to sleep through the night consistently, but what was it that made them all of a sudden seem so much older than they were?
There will come a time that I ask myself this question again. It is a question that we all ask ourselves almost every day as parents. I remember when William was Joseph’s age and saying that I didn’t want him to grow up then. Here he is now a smart and funny 7-year-old, Granted, there are times that I think he is older than he is. Then there is Joseph, who seems to be learning something new every day whether it is new words or some new trick that he has learned.
Our kids grow up so fast, and it took those five days at the Dad 2.0 Summit trying to figure out who I am as a father to see just how fast they are growing up. As much as we all say that we want to have some time away from our children, when we do finally have that time, it seems that we want nothing more than to get back to see them.
I remember the first night I was gone; I wanted to get back to see my family. I not only missed my wife, but I was missing precious moments with my kids. I was missing that first night that Joseph started to consistently sleep through the night. I missed that all meaningful conversation with my son about his new girlfriend, even if he still denies that she is his girlfriend.
They were moments that I didn’t want to miss, but moments I needed to miss only to realize just how quickly my kids are growing up.