The Busy Dad (A Father’s Day Memory)
What we’re doing is pretty radical. I quit my job. We’re selling the house. After a dozen trips to Goodwill, we put the rest of what we own in storage. We’re going to see America. For a year. In an RV. This is not something normal people do. Which is why the most frequent question I get is, “Why are you doing this?!”
A Father’s Day to Remember
To answer, jump back with me to Father’s Day 2017. It was a good holiday. I’d already quit my job, preparations for our travels were underway, and we enjoyed a day of watching the Captain Underpants movie (Tra-la-la!), eating at Rudy’s Barbecue, and opening a couple presents.
But what really got me was the card from my 8-year-old. Mom told Sage to create a card for Dad, so, on his own, he decided he would draw me a comic strip just for the occasion. Here it is:
You read the title right. He titled it, “The Busy Dad.”
Of all the things he could write about Dad–heroic, loving, thoughtful, muscular, spiritual, wise–he went with “busy.”
This isn’t the legacy I want to have with my kids.
He took me through the story. It goes something like this (you can follow along with the comic and feel the gut-wrenching I did when he read it to me. Fun!):
“Dad wakes early to an alarm. Then he drives to work, but gets a flat tire along the way. He gets it fixed. Then the store he goes to is closed. Then he finally gets in and goes to work. Next, he drives home in very busy traffic. Then he finally gets to see his family.”
In short, Dad wakes early, leaves, encounters a bunch of trouble, has a long commute, and gets home late to “finally” see his family.
Sadly, I wasn’t as surprised as I wish I had been. This is what he’s seen modeled from his Dad most his life. His busy, frustrated, tired Dad. Surely I can justify this, right? Isn’t busy-ness, frustration, and tiredness some of the fruit of the spirit mentioned in the Bible? There are so many of those it’s hard to keep track…
It reminded me of when I went back to work when our daughter was six (I’d been home writing freelance prior to this). Everything seemed fine on the surface, but suddenly she began a habit of biting her nails. Children’s thoughts and feelings come out in interesting ways, sometimes in the form of a nervous habit, other times in art.
Looking Ahead to Our Big Trip
My prayer is that by Father’s Day 2018, we’ll have had a full year of bonding, adventuring and discovering what’s really important in life. I mean, not to be morbid, but life is short. What if I had become a pancake on one of those long commutes to work? Is this the legacy I’d have left my 8-year-old? “He was a Busy Dad…”
Hard work is a good thing. We should all strive to do all we can, to be all we can be. And hard work done in corporate cubicles affords us many things in life that are good:
- A beautiful house
- Safety and security
- Extensive entertainment libraries
- Technology we can play with together
- The ability to dine out whenever we want
- Nice clothes, fun toys…
But this good is the enemy of the great. Gena and I, like so many people we know, have built a good life. We’ve been blessed; we have nothing to complain about. Good heavens, even the poorest among us are richer than the rest of the world.
Our lifestyle has afforded us so many good things. But the good is the enemy of the great.
But it has come at a cost. We’re losing our community–and not just with our neighbors, but also within our own households. We’re moving through our days with our heads in our video screens, with virtual currency quickly lapping the importance of real currency. And in the interest of maintaining what we have, we spend our days investing time and passion into things that are temporary. Grossly temporary.
Why Is Busy Dad Doing This?
Why are we doing this? We have several reasons. But it’s mostly because we’ve enjoyed the good long enough. It’s time to try something great. While this is our “something great,” I’m sure the path is different for every family. But for us, this is it.
In the next week, whether we’re 100% ready or not, we’re launching out into the unknown, heading out to more time together–richer time together, just having time together.
And if the feelings we’re already having are any indication, we’re going to love this. Remember that storage unit we filled? I couldn’t even tell you what’s over there, which is a clear indication that we probably never needed any of that stuff in the first place.
What we need isn’t more stuff. It’s each other. And new experiences. All else is negotiable.
But negotiating is something this busy dad doesn’t have time to do anymore.