The Indelible Imprint of Father’s Day

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

With Father’s Day today, I’ve been paying special attention to the wonderful moments of life.

They often represent simple experiences taken for granted, such as a midsummer’s night rain storm, a beautiful sunset, or an early morning mist resting comfortably on emerald green grass. Or, they may be of a more profound nature – a telephone conversation with mom, a grandfather’s smile, or the much needed support of a good friend.

Varying with one’s personal adventures, they define a life worth living and mark the highlights of one’s experience, though we often don’t realize it at the time.

Sadly, it has become common for many in our society to rush through the wonderful moments of life in an effort to realize others.

However, spending one’s life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives leaves most feeling unhappy and exhausted.

Not only are hasty departures from contentment bad for the soul, impatience can be conducive of heartache, as well as the impetus of guilt.

Lost time is never found again. That’s why we’ve all experienced some type of sentimental yearning for return to an irrecoverable history.

Nostalgia can be painful, particularly when regret is involved.

So lately, in clarifying my focus and reordering my priorities, I have come to understand that one way to avoid regret is to live without neglecting the present, especially in matters of the heart.

As a father, living life without neglecting the present now dwells among my highest priorities.

My sons deserve my time, my earnest consideration, and my devotion. Such were my father’s precious gifts to me; now it’s my turn.

I always find time to respond to a tiny tug at my pants leg.

Before Cambridge was born, I dreamed of him, I imagined him, I prayed for him. Now that he’s here, I cherish my time with him. And when my youngest son, Chamberlain, was born, life became complete. My love for them both is endless, without limits.

But even though watching then grow has been the delight of my life, it hasn’t always been easy. As all fathers can attest, their arrivals occasioned major changes.

For instance, both have developed a superhuman ability to make noise. Between drum sets, motor cars, action figures, and laser guns, volcanoes have erupted with far less turmoil and pandemonium.

And there is always – and I mean always – some type of strange smell floating inside our house. After all, a perfect summer day to a little boy means mud on his face, a scrape on the knee, and chasing frogs in the shade of the front porch. Despite my wife’s hard work to maintain cleanliness, we have quickly discovered that a boy is best described as a noise with dirt on it.

My personal space has disappeared, too. What once was a spacious home is now a cluttered minefield of balls, books, cars, trucks, and other assorted plastic dangers. Mom’s broom is no match for Curious George, Elmo, Spider Man, and friends.

Boys are God’s way of telling you that your house is too orderly.

Making matters worse, though I do my best to professionally represent my constituents, I have a confession to make – I haven’t worn a clean shirt in years. For some reason, particularly when I’m wearing white, my sons imagine me as a two-hundred pound walking paper towel.

And yet, with proper perspective, incredible fulfillment is discovered daily amid the complexities and difficulties of raising boys.

I’ve learned to enjoy even the challenging moments, because I know life is fleeting. My time with them is short, so I embrace each second.

One day, many years from now, when I’m sitting in my empty home alone, strangely quiet and far away from the worries of this hour, the day will come when I will find myself in nostalgic thought, wistfully recalling a much too hurried time — one of clamor, laughter, mud puddles, puppy dogs and innocence.

And with my shirt carefully pressed and perfectly clean, I’ll mourn the loss of those days when I think of the touch of my sons and their greasy little hands.

Their loving touch of affection while longing for my attention, which should have been my only focus, will always mean more to me than the temporary stains left behind.

At the end of this life, it will not be the blemishes on my shirt that mattered most; it will instead be the indelible imprint they’ve left on my heart.