Value each and every day…
Despite all of our adventures and all the memories we’ve made, I think that in 10 years, it’ll be our morning “cuddle shop” that I remember the most..
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be one thing when I grew up. Not a fireman, police man or some other heroic occupation. I wanted to be a dad. Like many other kids, I grew up without a dad, albeit in different circumstances to most. That’s not to say I felt like I was missing out, rather I just wanted to be that cool dad that took his kids camping, kicked a football whatever else I thought it meant to be a good dad when I was 8.
Next thing I knew, I was a dad, and boy did it feel amazing. After a very interesting birth (Jaiden was born en caul) I remember holding him for the first time, it was the most incredible experience and I feeling I will never forget. But as a (then) 25 year old, my idea of what it meant to be a good dad had changed.
A couple of years later I found myself a single parent and despite 8 year old Cam’s plans, the only quality time I had with Jaiden each day was 5 minutes of cuddle time each morning. When I’d arrive home from work it was a mad rush to get dinner cooked and get Jaiden to bed so we could get up at 5am and do it all over again. Jaiden would regularly come to the kitchen, grab my hand and try and lead me to the toy room to play with him, “I don’t have time, Dad needs to cook” was the response he’d get, day after day. Saturday would roll around and that involved food shopping, washing, mowing and whatever other chores had to be done. By the time Sunday arrived all I wanted to do was relax, “I guess I had better spend some time with Jaiden” was the conversation I’d have with myself. By now, 8 year old Cam’s plans were so far from a reality, I had forgotten they existed. Hell, spending time with Jaiden had become a chore.
It wasn’t until my counsellor asked me “If you could do anything tomorrow, what would you do?” did I realise that what I really wanted, was to be a dad. Whilst it was my awesome bosses from Rivercity Solutions encouraging me to seek professional help in the form of a counsellor, ultimately that professional help would lead to me realise that I didn’t want to work for them and fix computers. Instead, what I really wanted was to live my dreams, my 8 year old dreams.
Now, each morning when I wake up and say “This cuddle shop is open” I get greeted by a cheery faced Jaiden. Instead of a quick 5 minute hug, it’s 30 minutes, some days we lay there for well over an hour, just cuddling, talking, playing the same silly games over and over, day after day. The stuff I spent 15 years working to amass is all gone. My plans of career progression, a nicer car, a new phone or a new TV have eroded. Instead, I enjoy living with the little we have and enjoying each and every moment we get together. If that means I end up sitting at a desk job working well past retirement age, well so be it.
I meet so many retirees on the road who wish they’d spent more time with their own kids, just playing and enjoying each others company. Yet I all too often see posts like “I can’t wait for school holidays to be over, my kids are driving me crazy”, the sad part is there’s possibly going to be a day where you’re in a nursing home wishing your kids would come visit, meanwhile your child is at home saying “Oh I better go visit mum and dad, gee they drive me crazy”..
I’m not saying this applies to everybody, or that you should all quit your job, sell up and do what I did. Instead, try and stop to remember the reasons you had children. Think back to your own childhood and give your children the experiences or family time you wish you had. Don’t wish away the time with your children, embrace it and make memories.
Neither Instagram, facebook or Netflix are going anywhere, there’s plenty of time to enjoy them. The time we get with our kids, we can’t just replay that on demand, we’ve only got these years once so I’m doing all I can to make these years memorable.