Daddypotamus here. We hear a lot about mommy guilt these days, but not so much about dads. I hadn’t given much thought to it either until Katie was born and my two week “paternity leave” flew by so fast I barely blinked. The most amazing little girl I could have asked for had just come into my life. What now . . . just go back to business as usual?
For the record, I actually enjoy my job. But there’s something intimately painful about leaving my precious ones. Something to be said for time lost apart and never regained.
Glad I Missed the Emo-fest
Thankfully, Katie never made a huge deal over my leaving when she was little. I had anticipated a dramatic sobbing mess of a situation. Instead, I was more of a passing thought and an obstacle to be overcome so that she could move on to playing with her Gigi (Heather was still working from home so Gigi spent a few hours with her on weekday mornings).
Then there were a few late morning phone calls when Katie’s sense of separation became too much. My baby girl would babble and coo her own little daddy-come-home message, which felt like a dagger to the heart.
I know I’m pretty emotional for a guy. So be it. I came to terms with that more than a decade ago. I ache for my wife and children throughout the day (when I’m not so busy that my head’s spinning). But why does it have to feel like I’m missing the absolute best in life each time I walk out that front door?
There’s this distinct feeling that I’ve walked away from my emotional home. And while photos of my wife and kids do comfort me throughout the day, I still experience a lingering guilt and/or regret over not being with them.
How History Defines Us
My mind is filled with stories I’ve heard of generations past with fathers out on business or ministry so often that their children viewed them as visitors rather than parents. I’ve seen how it affects a growing child to not experience that father’s reaffirming touch and I’ve probably made some sort of internal vow to be different than those men. I want something better for my children. Something more complete.
I’m still not exactly sure how to do that.
I give as much of my free time as I can to my family. There’s never enough for everything. I still feel that ache of time lost when I walk out the door each morning. We’ve tried many things to stay connected throughout the day, including video chats over Skype during my lunch hour. Some have helped, some haven’t. But I come home ready to engage and snuggle and hold and play. And that’s the best approach I know.
How do you strengthen ties when you or your spouse returns home from a long day?
Photo Credit: Sias van Schalkwyk