Wednesday, August 22, 2012
It’s 3:30 AM. Yes, I am awake.
Why am I up so early?
I’m up because the deadline for my next novel is rapidly approaching and I’ve still got quite a bit of writing to do. But before I get started on the next chapter, I have something else on my mind that I want to discuss with you. Hey, it can’t be called procrastinating if I’m putting off writing so I can…write. Right? So here is what’s on my mind.
The past few weeks have marked the end of something that has been near and dear to my heart since I was five years old—summer vacation. When I was growing up, I enjoyed it for the obvious reasons: no school, family trips, barbecues, and seemingly unlimited amounts of playtime outdoors. Now, as a dad, I enjoy summer vacation because it means I get to spend more time with my two boys, Austin and Adam, than I do during any other part of the year.
It’s a special time, and I know it will not last forever.
So, as I got into my routine of rising at 3:30 AM and driving to a location away from the house so I could write without having to hear the sound of their little feet running around as they laugh and play right above my office, I began to wonder…
Have I completely screwed things up? This is Austin’s last summer before he becomes a teenager…
Here it is, the last few weeks of summer vacation, and I’m spending a great deal of time writing this book instead of laughing, playing, and being a dad to my two boys. Why? Because I made choices that led me to the time crunch in which I’ve currently found myself.
But then something happened that completely changed my perspective.
A couple of weeks ago, I recorded a new In the Loop podcast episode that was entirely devoted to answering one listener question. Rebecca, a mother of two, wrote into the show… She is stuck working a job in order to pay off her student loans when what she really wants to do is be the full-time manager of her home. She wants to devote her time to raising her children and taking care of the household, but it won’t be a financial possibility for at least another three years. Rebecca’s fear is that by the time she is able to leave her job, her kids will already be grown, off to school, and they won’t need her at home anymore.
My immediate advice for her was clear:
We live in the present. We can’t do anything about the decisions we have made except live with them. We are not made with the ability to always make right decisions. However, we are made with the ability to MAKE a decision…then make it right.
I told Rebecca to look for the opportunities to make the most out of her situation. So often, we overlook the extraordinary moments that hide in everyday situations. This is especially true when dealing with kids, because, to kids, everything is amazing.
When Hurricane Ivan destroyed our home, Polly and I first thought we were putting our kids through a nightmare. We had to move to three different rental houses within the span of two years. We were living out of boxes. We thought a lot about how unfair it was to the boys.
The reality we soon discovered, however, was that, to the kids, each move and each rental house was the most exciting adventure ever! One of the houses had a particularly dingy bathtub that Polly and I were not too happy about. The boys, on the other hand, were absolutely thrilled. Why? Because it was shaped in a way that allowed them to race their toy cars in it. To them, it was extraordinary.
As I sat there attempting to answer Rebecca’s question, I realized I was giving myself the answer to the very problem with whichI am currently struggling.
There is nothing I can do about the fact that I’ve put myself in a situation where I have to write from early in the morning until late in the evening. Until I’ve finished this manuscript, it’s a situation with which I will have to live. But that doesn’t mean the extraordinary moments have to stop. I’m still home to eat dinner with them every night I’m not on the road. I still get to put them to bed every night.
In every moment, there is potential to create the extraordinary with your children. It can even be as simple as waiting until they’ve put on their pajamas and then telling everyone to pile in the car for a late-night drive around town. (Remember how cool it was to ride in the car IN YOUR PAJAMAS???)
I’m thankful that Rebecca was able to remind me of this simple principle. We are not made with the ability to always make right decisions. However, we are made with the ability to MAKE a decision…then go about the business of making it right.
What decision can you begin to make right? I would love to know what you plan to do…and how you intend to pull it off in an extraordinary, memorable, very cool way! Actually, we all want to know! Let’s get started!