"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children." - Charles R. Swindoll
My daughter told me recently, she cherishes the following note that I wrote to her many years ago:
I am with you, around you, for you, and beside you -- always.
Over the years, since the time she was a little girl, I made sure, I set aside time for playfulness and closeness with my daughter, Auria. For example, at bedtime on most evenings, we would cuddle up and read one or two stories; then we would play "boat" before saying goodnight. "Boat" meant bouncing vigorously on the bed so that the mattress shook like a fragile vessel in a stormy sea. Auria would scream, "shark!" or "man overboard!" and we would peer over the side of the boat into the violently churning ocean waves.
Sometimes we played "dolls" together -- with Barbie and Ken and the pink Cadillac; later we graduated to the Spice Girls dolls. She thought Posh Spice was superior, I defended the excellence of Baby Spice. We "argued" back and forth which Spice Girl was the best.
I wasn't forcing myself to play these games; I was actually having fun! I was immersed in the play while sharing these hilarious moments of imaginative creativity. Later, in a Father's Day note written at the age of 19, my daughter recounted these precious moments, documenting them as if they were occurring that very day and not so many years before.
The note began like this:
"What father would play Barbies with his daughter?
What father would play Spice Girls?
What father would roll in bed pretending it was a boat?
What father would...."
And so on. It was the most heartwarming note! Once I was giving a speech at the Toastmaster's. The subject was balancing work and family. At the end of my speech I read my daughter's note. I noticed a couple ladies in the first row wiping off their tears.
One of my friends who had also raised his daughter alone said that, "raising a daughter is the most masculine thing a man can do." From my own experience, I understood what this means. Playing with dolls, engaging each other's imagination, over the years listening quietly and attentively as my daughter shared what was going on in her life -- the kind of communication traditionally thought of as "feminine," has actually built my strength, expanded my heart, and enlarged my understanding of life.
It has helped balance my own yang nature with the yin side of life, and therefore, I feel more complete in my experience of living. I feel whole and solid for having allowed these gentle, caring, and tender qualities to be cultivated in me. I have taken more delight in the tiny details and in the 'present moments' of life by devoting my full presence to my precious child.
If you have children of your own, make sure you spend quality time. Do not wait, when the time is gone it's gone!
Always tell your children you love them. Always make them feel they matter. Listen attentively withholding judgments. Support all their interests-attend their games, recitals, concerts, etc. Play with them when they are still young and be a kid. Read to them and share your experiences without hesitation. So that, we are not left with the feeling, as Dr. Seuss once wrote, "How did it get so late so soon?"