Expiration Dates

Last week I took the girls to the Atlanta History Center on MLK day. As a history buff, it was great to spend the day with the girls appreciating how far we’ve come while also acknowledging how much further we have to go.

I read this great quote this morning by Bob Goff, opportunities usually come with an expiration date. That rings true from what I’ve experienced. My greatest regrets are tied to opportunities that I passed on or failed to take advantage of. Likewise, my greatest triumphs have been in times where I’ve seized the moment. The past two weeks have presented interesting case studies in the importance of seizing the moment, both in parenting and in my work.

Let’s begin with today. The past few days I’ve become sicker and sicker. This morning I could barely pull myself out of bed. Of course that didn’t stop a three year old from crawling into my lap and giving me a bear hug at 7:15 in the morning. But, try as I might, I knew I had to pull it together to get down to Vine City this morning. In addition to being the epicenter of the football universe right now (this historic neighborhood is a stone’s throw from where the Superbowl will be played tomorrow), it’s also ground zero for a growing parent movement for education here in Atlanta. One of the highlights of my week is spending time knocking on doors with parents who are serious about changing the face of education for children in our city. There’s a sense of urgency about the work that just keeps you going.

It’s a similar sense of urgency that I feel when I walk in the door after a long day and all of my girls come running (or crawling) towards me. Every parent who’s been around long enough to watch their kids grown into teenagers knows that this phase doesn’t last forever. It’s almost like there’s an expiration date on their exuberant affection. So every time I come home I soak it up as much as I can.

My new favorite moment to savor has been our weekly journal time. One of my goals this year is to spend dedicated one on one time with each of my girls. This is easy for the three year old and the baby- we spend a ton of one on one time already. But for the two older girls, this was getting trickier. Our interests are starting to diverge, and it’s like they’re becoming actual little people! Growing concerned that they were growing up so fast, and that I might miss something, I came up with a plan.

At Christmas I gave my oldest two a journal called The Big Life Journal. It has a year’s worth of journal prompts, articles, and conversation starters and it’s designed to be a shared experience. I told each of them that I would be their personal journal buddy. So, for each of the past 4 weeks, every Sunday evening I sit on Riley’s bed and we each share our journal responses for the week. Then, I cross the hall and sit on Olivia’s bed and we each share our journal responses for the week.

Hands down, this time is the absolute highlight of my week now because it’s a win win. I get to know what my girls are thinking, and they get to learn some interesting things about their dad. Last week’s theme was dreaming big. Here’s what I wrote in my own journal after the experience:

Today we did our first volunteer event as a family of the year, and it was amazing. Then, this evening during journal time, the topic was having big dreams. I told the girls about how growing up one of my dreams was to be a father, like Dr Huxtable. It’s so cool to see the power of that dream, the beauty of that dream come true, and to sit and listen to them talk about their own dreams. 

I hope years down the road I get to look back in amazement at how they did it, and I get to know the joy of supporting and cheering them on as they pursue their dreams. 

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams- Eleanor Roosevelt 

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