It was a hot, muggy, summer evening.
I had spent time at a neighbor’s house, and I was returning home. As soon as I opened the door, I could sense something.
My brothers and sister were talking in excited tones, and everyone had a “wind-blown” look.
“Dad bought a new convertible, and we got a ride!” they screamed.
I stood there for a moment, the thoughts swirling in my head. It was a lot to digest.
Suddenly, I ran up to my room and slammed the door. I cried and wailed, wondering why they hadn’t waited for me. Being the only one who hadn’t gotten a ride was enormously painful. My family felt cruel and heartless.
“Do you want a ride in the new car?” I heard my Dad say.
“No,” I yelled.
Even as a five-year-old, I was compelled to feel justified as a victim.
“Are you sure?” he asked again.
“All right,” I said.
My Dad took me out for my own private tour in the new car.
As the wind whistled through my hair, I alternated between laughing and crying. And when we returned home, I felt again like a full member of my family.
This was one of the earliest memories of my father, and one of the fondest. My father considered my needs, and acted on them. When you’ve got four siblings, the quest to be recognized is never-ending. And at that moment, I felt recognized.
I’m not sure how my father remembers the same incident, or even if he does remember. But I know it was important to me.
And I know how important it is to keep precious memories of your children.
Most fathers today take a lot of pictures and videos of their kids. In fact, the average kid is in more pictures than the average super-model. However, many of the memorable experiences with your kids aren’t ones that can be captured by a camera. Videos and pictures can’t capture what you’re thinking and feeling when these experiences occur.
Only you can.
Starting a fathering diary does many things. It helps you remember the amazing things your kids have done and said. It helps you to reflect on your own feelings, as you ride the waves of fatherhood. And it provides you with a treasure of memories, which you can share one day with your children.
Here are some ideas on keeping a written record of fatherhood:
- You don’t need to be a writer! Just get to your computer twice a week for five minutes, and plunk down your feelings and memories.
- If you’re married, use your spouse to help with memories. They can fill you in on many of the precious things that were done and said each day.
- If you’re struggling with something to write about, have an experience with your kids! You can only remember the meaning in your experiences if you’re fully engaged with them. Leave the thoughts of work at work!
- Review what you’ve written every six months or so. This is a great way to see where you’ve been, and to help you know where you’re going.
Keeping a journal of your fathering experiences may seem like, “one more thing” in your life. But we all know how quickly your children grow up. One day you’re tying their shoes, and the next, they’re asking for the car.
There’s a way to keep the precious memories of your children’s life, and it goes deeper than any picture or video can. It’s simply a matter of expressing what’s inside of you.
And when you go there, you may find a lot more feeling than you’d ever imagined.