Last night was a bit of an interesting night. It was one of those nights where things started to sink in. The realisation that I have a family. The realisation that this isn’t all a dream. The realisation that life is passing by. Don’t get me wrong, I already knew all of this, but it was just one of those moments. Let me set the scene for you:
Our son was in bed, the toys were picked up and the lights were off downstairs. My wife and I had just finished watching some TV and were getting ready to pack it in for the night. We went in to tuck in our son one final time for the night as he tends to kick off his covers while falling asleep. After I tucked him in and my wife had a little peek in at him and mouthed at me “he’s so cute!” I followed her into the nursery which is all set up for the next baby, due in the next couple of weeks.
I don’t remember exactly what she was doing, but I put my arms around her big pregnant belly and just held her for a few seconds before revealing to her what I had been thinking about: How quickly time was flying by!
We thought about when we brought our son home to that very nursery.
We thought about when we were decorating that nursery.
We thought about when we moved into our house.
We thought about our wedding and our honeymoon.
We thought about wedding planning.
We thought about when we got engaged.
We thought about when we were dating.
We thought about when we met.
We realised just how quickly time is melting away into the past.
This all happened in a matter of seconds. We didn’t linger on each topic or anything, just mentioned different milestones in our life together. I’m not sure about her, but afterwards I kept thinking about how much we’ve changed in the last decade. When we met in college, we were definitely not the people that we are today. We’ve both grown so much in faith and in knowledge and in love. We’ve co-created 4 human beings, two that we didn’t get a chance to meet, one that we will be meeting in the next couple of weeks, and one that was sleeping soundly in his new bedroom.
As we get set for the next chapter of our life together, an evening like that can be very useful. It’s a chance to think about the mistakes that we’ve made in the past and how we don’t want to repeat them in the future. It’s a chance to think about opportunities that we’ve missed in the past and how we need to capture them in the future. It’s a chance to think about how precious moments can be and how we don’t want to miss them in the future.
In moments like that, it’s very easy to remember all of the good and happy moments, but it’s also important to remember the tough times. Whether it’s something as big as dealing with a miscarriage; or something as frustrating as dealing with an entire day of screaming, tantrums, and disagreement; or something as small as wasting an hour looking at your phone while your child plays by himself quietly and you realise that you can never get that time back, it’s worth reflecting on.
I tweeted last night “The best gift that you can give your kids is not found in a store, but getting down and spending time with them.
#PlayTogetherStayTogether” after watching this IKEA commercial from Christmas yesterday. It’s a real eye opener. At that young age, the only thing that they really want is to spend time with you, to spend their entire day with you, to play with you, laugh with you, do absolutely anything… as long as it’s with you.
Since our son was born, we have made it a priority to spend a lot of time with him. My wife quit her job after her maternity leave ended to stay home and raise our children, I cut back on extra curricular activities that kept me away from home after work and I try to save whatever I want to do for after he goes to bed where possible. Even with just work, I only get to see him for about 4 hours a day. I try hard to make that four hours count for him, but it’s not always easy.
In today’s reading from the epistle to the Hebrews, it says “keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have.” I feel like the word “money” in that piece of advice can be changed to so many different words. So often when we’re wasting time on our phones it’s as if we’re looking to find something that we don’t have. We want that nugget of information and we want to be one of the first to know when something happens. We want to make sure that we see every picture that our friends post and read every article that is shared on a topic that you’re passionate about. But at the same time, your life is happening all around you and you’re focused on everyone else’s lives.
We live in a world where everything needs to be dealt with instantly. If our phone makes a noise, it has become instinctual to check it. If we’re in the middle of a conversation and feel the vibrate, we want to check it, or our mind starts to wander, wondering what the message is and we lose track of the actual conversation that we’re having. If we’re on the floor playing with our kids and our phone rings, we stop whatever we’re doing to answer that phone, even though the only people who call us aren’t people at all, but machines letting us know that we’ve “won a free cruise!”
Last year for Lent, one of the things that my wife and I gave up was our phones from the time that I got home from work until our son was in bed. It was wonderful! Sure there were times when we wanted to check something, or were in the middle of a conversation, or our phones were going so crazy that we just had to check what exactly was going on. There were even times when we caught each other falling into the trap and reminding each other that it’s Lent, but those moments were rare and we even tried to keep it going through the Easter Season. Eventually we just fell back to the old ways of jumping at every noise or vibration that our phones made.
I’ve recently tried to make a conscious effort to keep my phone out of my reach between those hours again, but it’s so easy when you get up to check something to just fall into the trap of technology, staring into your screen as life passes you by. Scrolling to see that next Facebook post or tweet… but the scrolling could go on forever. I’m sure we will try to do it again this Lent (which is already starting in just over a week), and hopefully it will have a more lasting effect on us (as the things that we give up or do for Lent should).
It’s common to hear that when people are on their death beds and are asked about their regrets in life, their big regrets are never that they spent too much time with their family or didn’t make enough money. They will always say that they didn’t spend enough time with their family. It’s always that they spent too much time chasing wealth or knowledge instead of living their life with what they have.
That alone is something worth reflecting on while we’re still young and feel invincible.