Over the years since I had my daughters, I’ve often thought about life, death, legacy, what’s really important and deep stuff like that. (Hey…I’m a deep kinda guy.)…but, it would always leave me with a BANGIN’ headache and no answers, so I would kind of just place it on the back burner until another situation came up that would put me in one of my Prince listening, dark room sitting, meaning of life pondering moods.
One of those times came when my brother died almost a year ago and it left me with one big question that I’ve been internally debating ever since.
What exactly is legacy?
It ain’t as simple as one would think. Well, it kinda IS, but there’s a lot of stuff that muddies the subject for us. It took me a LONG time to sort through it, but I think I can bring some clarity. Through it all, I hope that I can help some of you benefit from my ignorance so that you don’t have to go through it. So hang with me, and I’ll try to shed some light on it or, more colorfully, like one of my friends from my Air Force days used to say, “…throw some dirt in that hole”.
What I discovered is that as men, we often place such a huge value on providing for our families financially and materially, that we leave ourselves with almost no energy to provide for them mentally and spiritually. We sometimes worry so much about getting that hot, new toy, or the latest Jordans, or the newest video game system (Okay…maybe that one was more for ME than the kids…but you get the picture. DON’T JUDGE ME!) when in fact, our time and attention is the MOST important thing that we can do for our daughters. I now look at it like this…”If I can buy it, it will eventually be useless…buy if I can INSTILL it, it will last forever…..You can’t run out of character.”
So in a nutshell, be careful not to fall into the trappings of giving your daughters STUFF. YOUR time is one of the few things that no one else can give her and that can never be replaced. Simply put, once it’s gone, there’s no getting it back. That makes it valuable beyond measure.
When I first adopted the girls, we would sometimes go to a coffee shop together just to hang out. I would get some kind of foo foo latte or something, and the girls would get what we affectionately called a “moo- moo steamer” or, plainly put, a steamed milk with flavoring in it. We would sit there and I would read a newspaper and they would pretend to read as they sat across from me. One of my biggest regrets in regards to them, is not doing it more often. I can remember looking across the table at them as they “read” but gosh…it sure would be nice to have a LOT more memories of it, but, as I said…you cant get time back.
So, the keys? Share your time, and make good use of the time you share with them. Here are a few ideas that I think would be great to do with your daughters.
1) Leave work sometimes and pick her up from school “just cause”. Go see a cartoon at the movies or maybe just go for a nice long walk and talk about life.
2) Deliver flowers to her school for no reason.
3) Have lunch with her at school. (That is IF you can still fit in those little tables….Let me tell ya, years of eating like the government would be making it illegal tomorrow made sitting in them chairs one hecukva experience for yours truly.)
4) TELL her how important she is to you as often as you can.
5) Take her fishing. (I wish I had pictures of when I first took my girls fishing on the pier. It was HIGH-LARRY-US and they absolutely LOVED it. They STILL love to go.) Yes, I DO know how to spell hilarious…but EVERYTHING is better when spelled phonetically.
6) Take funny faced pictures with them.
7) Two words: Pillow Fights.
8) Take her kite flying. My daughters STILL talk about how I took them kite flying. To them , it was the most amazing thing in the world, but if I describe it, I’d call it “Daddy running around a field with a kite in his hand while they held the string.”
9) Hold her hand as often as you can. There will be a time when you wont be able to anymore.
10) Listen to her. Even though she may be little…she still wants to know that she’s important enough to get your attention.
In my mind, the litmus test is this: “When I’m no longer here…and my girls are describing me to their children….what words will they use?” I think of that…and then act accordingly.
BAM! That’s some high quality dirt that I just threw in that hole!