I am usually the first awake in the house although I am not an early morning person. I get up early to have some time to myself. It’s often the only time of the day where nothing is demanded of me. I can sit, think, meditate, stretch, exercise, read, or write. I’ll spend 15-45 minutes doing one or a combination of those activities and then I’ll begin to prepare the house for the day.
On many days, while I’m preparing for the day, my oldest son, now 7, will wake up. I’ll hear his over sized feet flap around on the floor above as he visits our bedroom to identify our location. If my wife is still in bed, he’ll snuggle for a few minutes. If she’s not, he’ll pivot and head downstairs. As I hear this routine play out above me, my heart settles and spirit warms for what comes next.
What follows is one of my favorite parts of the day. I hear my son leave my bedroom and stomp down the stairs like he’s a full grown man. At this point I stop whatever it is I’m doing and turn to approach him.
I usually stand in the doorway between our dining room and kitchen and wait for him to turn the corner at the bottom of the stairs. There he sees me, 30 feet away, waiting for him with my arms out. Some days if he’s tired he walks, but most days there’s a pickup to his step and he runs and jumps in my arms. He wraps his arms and legs around me and places his head on my left shoulder. No words are spoken and none are needed.
This is when the magic happens.
The rest of the world disappears as our breath slows and unifies. I immediately stop thinking about the busy day ahead and am immersed with gratitude and peace. What a joy it is to be a father. What a gift it is to have another day on this planet to share with my children.
My to do list disappears. Self-doubt, worry, and judgement halt. Time seems to stand still. We don’t have to do, just be.
These moments don’t fix a broken heart when you’re suffering, but they do provide some relief, even if it is temporary. It also places a reminder of hope and joy for what our children may become.
For those that know my oldest, most would be shocked to find that he can sit still and quiet for more than a few seconds. Usually only the moments at the beginning and end of his day start and stop with such calm. These tender moments allow his sweet soul to shine.
After a minute or two of holding my son, I’ll whisper in his ear, “I love you”.
His response captures me every time. “Me too daddy, me too.”
Often, when my father comes to my house and we take a moment to embrace, I’ll linger for few seconds longer than most hugs usually last. It’s here when I notice his breath skip and his shoulders relax. I now know that this is when his heart and soul are refilled just the same as mine.