By Mark Brandenburg
As I planned an all-day trip last weekend with my daughter, I
remember going down a list of "critical" projects that would have to wait for
another day: visiting my parents, a work project, mowing the lawn, cleaning the
house, getting some much-needed exercise, and weeding the "jungle" that was once
our garden. All of these things would have to be put on hold for awhile.
My daughter Sarah, her cousin Annie, and Annie's father Bill and
I went on a day trip to the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Pepin,
Wisconsin. It was a day of simple pleasures and discussions about what frontier
life must have been like. The imaginations of our daughters were soaring, and
they had a day they'll remember forever.
I think their fathers did, too.
And while we had a wonderful time, I'm aware that this day
almost didn't happen. This wonderful day that will be etched in the mind of my
daughter forever almost didn't happen, because life almost got in the way. I had
almost given in to the voices that told me that there were "too many other
things" that needed to be done.
All across this country fathers (and mothers) are being squeezed
by the demands of work and family. Our free time each week to spend with our
families has steadily decreased. In a society that continually promotes products
that will save us time, we have less time than ever before.
In her book, "Embracing Your Father, Building the Relationship
You Want with Your Dad," author Linda Nielsen, Ed.D, points out some interesting
-Eighty percent of the fathers in our country earn most of the
money for their families.
-Counting the time spent commuting, working, doing house and
yard work, and being with the kids, the average father has 5 hours less free
time each week than the average employed mother.
-On average, employed fathers work 10 more hours a week than
Most fathers want to spend more time with their kids but don't
feel as though they can "afford" it. And when they do spend more time with their
kids, they feel themselves falling behind in other areas of their life. This
"squeeze" can prevent us from making the kinds of decisions that allow us to be
closer to our children.
Sarah bounded up the stairs after our trip, her eyes beaming and
wearing the Laura Ingalls Wilder bonnet that I'd bought for her. As she jumped
up into my arms she said, "Thanks for the great day, daddy, I love you."
As I lingered there for a moment after she'd left, it all became
clear to me. This day with my daughter, this beautiful day, had been lumped in
with all the other "responsibilities" I have in my life.
And it has no business being there.
It belongs in a place that's untouched by other duties and
responsibilities we face in our lives. A place that we absolutely commit to and
hold as sacred. Because it's a place that will touch our hearts like no other.
I think we can all afford to fall behind in our other duties.
How about you?