Have you ever had that experience where you hear what someone says and it just stands out in a way that you know inside your soul that it's true, and it matters? When I first became a parent, a friend said to me, "Pay attention and enjoy this journey, because they grow up so fast, they'll be gone before you know it." The way those words resonated with me I knew them to be true. And , though I believe I lived with that truth in mind, nevertheless, it is becoming reality right before my eyes.
Lesley and I started a little late on the family thing. We were married young, 23 for both of us. But for one reason or another we managed to hold off having kids until we were 30. So, our oldest Ryan, just turned 21 (ok do the math), our middle son Taylor 19, and Dylan (the "Pickle") will be eligible for his driver's license in a couple of weeks. I swear, it was just a couple of blinks ago that we bought Ryan that cute and very warm down snowsuit. We all remember Taylor's first steps- the day he learned to sit up at 8 months old, a week later he decided to get up and walk! And Dylan, still as much a surprise today as he was 16 years ago.
I am grateful that I made the sacrifices I did to be able to be there to spend so much time around my boys. Lot's of guys were off making a name for themselves and putting in the hours and the travel that it took to "succeed" in their careers. Me, I quit doing the overnighters to get the TV show we were working on that week on the air in the morning. I also decided not to referee the high school wrestling season that next year. I wanted to be around those little guys. When the first gulf war broke out and the economy took a digger I was laid off my job as a producer/director at a local TV station. I didn't put in the hours I used to and that made me expendable I suppose. But I would never trade back what I traded up for then.
It always seemed unfair to me that at the same time a man needed to maximize his earning potential to support his family, his family needed maximum time from him to be Dad. Pulled in two directions, a man cannot devote himself fully to both "masters". Fortunately I was able to maintain a balance that was right for me, working in media sales which allowed me enough flexibility in my schedule to be fully involved with the boys. A few years coaching little league when they were pre-teens was fun, several years coaching a youth wrestling program at one of the local high schools was my way of spending time with them and passing along values and lessons I thought were important in life. I have so many great memories from those days that follow me every day.
Those were very rich years watching them develop skills, friends, and Lesley and I met many friends in the parents of those little athletes. While they seem like only yesterday, I am grateful for those words "enjoy the journey, they grow up so fast" because we did- some of the richest years in our lives, and within the week Taylor will get on an airplane to join his brother out of the country and Lesley and I will only have one left at home- "gone before we knew it".
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