I don’t think it’s much of a secret that I tend to have workaholic tendencies. I hyperfocus on tasks at hand to get things done. Some of it is intentional, and some of it is just how I’m wired.
But one thing I continue to learn and work toward is “being present.” Sometimes this is really really hard for me. My brain is filled with all the things that must get done at home, at work, everywhere and I feel the need to prioritize them and attack them or risk they not happen at all.
For winter break, I had an obligation to work remotely for part of the time you were with me. This meant that while we were together, I was definitely trying to juggle interacting with you, keeping you reasonably occupied and entertained, and getting the work done that I had to do.
Because I’m new at my job, I didn’t have a ton of PTO available to just not work and there were going to be 5 work days (out of 10 days) that needed to work, and two travel days to and from Atlanta. Needless to day, I didn’t feel like I was going to be able to spend the quality time with you I wanted.
I picked you up on Saturday afternoon, and we did our Christmas when we got home. On Sunday we did some furniture shopping but mostly played with your Christmas toys and started working on your 1,969 piece giant Saturn V lego set. Monday and Tuesday I worked remote and it was difficult keeping you entertained (being an only child can make for a lot of lone play time).
Wednesday we traveled to Atlanta/The Farm on a bumpy flight and Thursday you played with Mama Jo, Papa Tom, and PopPops while I worked again.
Friday morning I woke up and did a little work before you woke up, but once you were up, the last thing I wanted to do was work. I literally wanted to just spend as much quality time with your happy little 6 yr old self as I could. So I took the PTO for the remainder of the day, let me my team know, and committed to spending the rest of the weekend focused on our time together.
You’ll probably notice that there is no letter from last week (January 5th). That’s because we were too busy playing a marathon session of Uno at your request on Sunday. Writing my letters is important to me, but in contrast to my last letter, sometimes other commitments are not as important as being present in the moments you’re in.
I’m not always going to get this right. I will be distracted. I may not always prioritize the right action or activity, but sometimes it’s obvious. Last weekend, it was obvious and we had a wonderfully, fantastic Winter Break with each other.
My favorite part of the our weekend was super cute. On one of our goodnight routines early in your visit I said, “I’m so happy that you’re my daughter.” I think you nearly started crying when I said it, but after a poignant exchange with you about what that meant, you said something that made me respond with, “Well I will tell you that as many times as possible.” You simply replied with “I think I want you to say it 2 to 4 times a day. Or maybe 16. No 2-4 is good.”
After that exchange, every night I would say our goodnight words, and if I hadn’t said “I’m so happy you’re my daughter” that day, you would get to the end of our normal goodnight words and look at me with big ol’ eyes and say, “And what else…?” And I would wrap you up in a big snuggly hug say it four times fast, but if I tried to say it extra you would tell me “only 2 to 4 times!”
Anyway, it was a fun little thing we did that I really enjoyed.
The main point here is that once I committed to not working on Friday, my only focus was maximizing our quality time (minus a few naps), and I let everything else wait. Work can wait, your letter can wait (I can write an extra to make up for it).
I will admit that it is a little easier to do this when you don’t own the company you work for and your work is not truly time sensitive that day, but sometimes it’s just the right thing to do and I have no regrets.
When you’re older and have kids and a family and conflicting responsibilities, even if you’re not good at relaxing and being present, tried to be present. It’s worth it. I promise.
P.S. You have suddenly become a super reader! You read a whole series of books in two days. It was incredible. So, in honor of your love of books:
Today my daughter asked me, “Can I have a book mark?” For the life of me, I have no idea why she started calling me Mark!”
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