Making the most of this fleeting time

Enjoy this monthly post from Patrick Riecke, director, Chaplaincy and Volunteer Services.

I have a teenager. And next year I will have two teenagers. And the year after that I will have three. Yes, our kids are that close in age. In fact, this year we will have a child in each grade at the middle school where our kids go. With three middle school-age students, you can imagine, I am regularly reminded that I am not a perfect parent.

This parenting stuff is tough business. I am fortunate that my lovely wife does a lot of the heavy lifting with the kids. Single parents have the hardest job in the world. None of us get it right all the time. The only people with all the answers about parenting are – you guessed it – people aren’t parents.

We can all agree on one thing, though. Our time with them is limited. They grow up so fast. I am certain that my daughter is taller every time she wakes up. And my sons surprise me with hair under their arms, lowering voices and the realization that Dad isn’t that much stronger than them anymore.

Our time with our children, as children, is fleeting.

Several years ago, I had to inform a teen, my intern at the time, that his mom was about to die. I had to literally interrupt him at his senior prom, put him in my car, and drive him to a facility where his mom was dying. She died the next morning. It was Mother’s Day. I know it was the worst moment of his life, and it ranked near the bottom for me as his pastor.

As we celebrate Father’s Day, let’s not wish for an elaborate outdoor barbecue or one more necktie. Let’s not even wish for peace and quiet. Let’s cherish the time we have and the noisy laughter and chatter it brings. Because, as they say, they won’t stay this age forever.

In light of that, I, a non-poet, wrote this poem about what I feel as a father.

There will be a day not so far away
When I will awake and find
My house not so dirty and not so loud
There will be a day not so far away
When I will awake and find
Much less work and less crowd
There will be a day not so far away
When I will no longer cut sandwiches and butter toast
But will remember with fondness the days when I did that the most
There will be a day not so far away
When my sons will look me in the eye
Without the help of chair to get up high
There will be a day not so far away
When my daughter will come and go
And where she’s at I won’t even know
There will be a day not so far away
When we’ll wait for their call
And remember when they were small
There will be a day not so far away
When it won’t be hard to remember they aren’t mine
Their new addresses proving to be a sure sign
There will be a day not so far away
When bedtime stories and prayers will end
And I’ll hope to call 4 young Rieckes friends
There will be a day not so far away
When all that’s left of these days is photos and memories
When K and I will recall stories with ease
There will be a day not so far away
When it won’t matter if they ate too many sweets
Or had the right shoes on their feet
And when I awake on that day not so far away
I’ll kneel and thank God for the love He lavished on me
And hope that I’ve given it to them similarly

Happy Father’s Day, all.

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