I’ve been a dad now for 7 years, 6 months. Add the 9 months before that where my wife was “in a family way,” as my lovely late grandma would say, if you wanna get all technical with me but as a parent of a separate little entity from my wife’s mid section and we are at seven and a half years… and for the last five and a half it’s been a two-fer party with the addition of our daughter. I have aged at least twice that much in that period of time but it has been an amazing journey that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
The interesting thing to me about parenting is the malleable nature of time. I think back over this parenting journey and in some ways it feels like the blink of an eye – and in other ways it seems so long ago that I can barely remember what it was like before kids. The same goes for looking forward… With our son, he is seven years old going on eight, while our daughter is five going on 16. She is literally turning my hair white. No – I’m not exaggerating. I have gotten to the point I have had to stop plucking and start contemplating Just For Men Hair Color or I am going to go bald.
Our kids could not be more different from one another if they not only had different parents but also if they were each a member of a different species. Our son may look more like me than his mom but he was definitely blessed with his mom’s sweet, loving, good-kid personality. My daughter, has her mother’s looks – thank God – but her old man’s, let’s call it, “fun-loving” personality. (My own mom might say something like, “karma much?” if she believed in such things… which she doesn’t… I don’t think.)
The mind-blowing thing for me as a dad, and will always be I suppose, is the fact that every day I have with my sweet, sweet kids, is an additional day I didn’t have with my own dad. I actually surpassed that day on March 19th, 2013.
That day came and went like any other really. I can’t tell you what we did. I can tell you it was a Tuesday but only because I went back to look it up as I was writing this. I can tell you specifically though about that night. I went to bed like normal after our nightly routines of getting on PJs, brushing teeth, washing hands, going potty, then listening to a sob story about being hungry for a snack, giving into said sob story, eating a quick bowl of cereal, re-brushing teeth, another potty trip before finally getting tucked into bed with a quick story and a prayer… then Tera still had to go through the same routine with the kids… Just kidding! … Or am I?
A few hours after falling asleep, I woke up. Not just like barely woke up… I mean like sit straight up in the bed, wide awake. 2:30am… What the? I hate it when that happens. I hate not being able to go to sleep… it’s almost a phobia for me. But there I laid and no matter what I tried, sleep would not return. My mind was racing. It was moving from one subject to the next seemingly with no agenda or goal… but at some point, for some reason, I started wondering how long it had been since my dad died. Laying there, I got that figured out to the day. Then I started wondering how old that made me when he was killed. I mean, like calculating it down to the day. Then almost immediately I realized that my son had to be really close to that age himself. And I did the same calculation for him. And the craziest realization moment that has happened to me so far in life was that I realized that that day… March 19, 2013, to the day… my son was the exact same age, on that day, that I had been when my dad was killed! Now I had not once thought about that before that moment – at least on a conscious level. I had woken up from a dead sleep and within 30 minutes I had figured this out.
I have thought about it a lot since I woke up that night. It kind of blows my mind. Our brains – even a simple one like mine – is working constantly on stuff… even when we don’t realize it. I think waking up on that specific night and working that math out was more than just a coincidence. I think what I came out on the other side of that day with was a renewed energy for my wife and kids. A reminder that every day is precious. Every day is a gift. I have to keep that realization from a late night on March 19, 2013 as my reminder for every day.
The reminder for me is this… Live your life to the fullest. Cherish every moment. Don’t take anything for granted… and don’t let your time as a dad slip away.
Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are someone who has had a terrible experience(s) at a church or churches – stop by some weekend and give it one more shot with Eastside. Whether you have felt judged, or dismissed, or unwanted – wherever it has been – Eastside is different.