It's fascinating that as an adult, more specifically as a parent, the holidays take on a whole new meaning. Sure, there's still the anticipation for lights on the house and a Christmas tree standing in the window... but now as a dad, it's me putting all that stuff up. My 5-year-old son has now been promoted to my official helper. Last year, he was more of the official Christmas light tangler. Wasn't pretty. But the focus of this season, at least for me, is 100% on my two boys.
My son's focus is primarily on the zillion commercials running constantly in between his cartoons showing the latest and greatest toys he NEEDS to have. After calling us into the room to see a TV commercial for the umpteenth time featuring some random toy like a monster truck that now hovers on water that is driven by a robot who turns into a motorcycle, he gives us his favorite holiday phrase: "I'm gonna put that on my list." Lucky for us, we can dangle the "better be good because Santa is watching" card... which quite frankly has been a friendly threat since just after summer. It's a good lesson in patience and wishful thinking. I call it leverage.
But a few weeks back, I happened to capture one defining moment on my iPhone that made my entire holiday... and yes, left dad shedding some tears.
I was getting ready to leave for work, and as always, it was before the sun came out. Trying to creep out of the house while everyone is asleep is quite the task. For some reason, I usually end up making more noise when I'm attempting to be quiet. The toothbrush falls, the coffee mug clinks, the piece of the hardwood floor that I happen to step on makes the loudest creaking noise ever... you know the drill.
As I was walking to the door thinking I had successfully avoided waking anyone up, I heard a whisper in the dark say, "Dad, where are you going?" It was my son walking towards me in his jammies with crazy bedhead. He asked, "Are you going to work?" I responded, "Hey bud, sorry I woke you up. Yes, Daddy has to go to work." His reply, "But it's dark outside. You need to go back to bed." Gotta love kids and their simplistic way of thinking. After telling him to head back to bed, I gave him a big hug and a kiss and started walking out the door. I then heard a faint, "Dad?" So I turned around and he said, "Can I have one more hug?" Naturally, I couldn't pass up the moment. I put down my laptop, coat and everything I was holding for that final squeeze, closed the door and locked it behind me.
As I started my car, I sat there thinking, one day he won't be here in this house anymore with that little voice, wearing those jammies asking me for another hug. I realized that in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I sometimes take those moments for granted. Parents, you know what I'm talking about. You get home from a long day of work and then your next job starts ...picking up the kids from daycare, making dinner, giving baths, playtime, reading books and then bed. Ain't gonna lie: My wife and I are complete zombies by 9 p.m.. But fast-forward to sitting in the driveway, I was reminded to cherish every single moment... even those crazy ones when our 1-year-old son launches a spoonful of pasta across the table.
Before driving off, I happened to look towards the house. There he was, standing in the window and waving goodbye with a big smile. Still brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Can't express how grateful I felt at that very moment. His simple wave that morning is one I'll always remember.