Since Kindergarten I have been walking my daughter to and from school on most days throughout the school year. Over the years I have come to love this daddy-daughter time.
Sometimes we’d just walk and not say anything, while other times we’d talk the whole way. We’d talk about pretty much everything.
We’d stop and listen to the birds in the spring or take in the colours of the fall. We’d wait for the fountain to come on as we passed by. We’d catch up with classmates and their parents along the way but usually it was just the two of us.
It became a big part of developing the wonderful relationship we share today. Time I would not trade for anything.
I’m grateful for the freedom I had in my business over the years so that I we could share this experience. Not every business owner has the same level of freedom and most people in 9 to 5 jobs do not have it either. But it wasn’t always there for me and my business. It required taking conscious steps to make it happen.
It required my wife and I to consciously create a vision of what we wanted for our daughter in terms of support from a very early age. Then, in order to live that vision several changes needed to happen. Some in stages.
It included my needing to reset some work related hours and boundaries and that impacted some clients. It included me needing to really embrace a core value of mine, family first, in decision making. That meant possibly saying no when it did not align the way I wanted. In this instance it meant this time was sacred time and it would take something pretty significant to alter that part of my schedule.
Funny thing was, when I told my clients why I needed to change the time of our sessions they were very accommodating in doing so. Over time I needed to change my mindset to automatically respond to demands on my time during the walk to school or walk home from school period in a way that aligned with the support my daughter needed and the desire for quality daddy-daughter time we both loved.
It became easier over time. But, as the years went by I knew things would change and eventually this time would pass.
My daughter began Grade 7 this past week. Junior High. Even though her school did not change there is a shift that happens when one moves into Grade 7. A right or passage. A maturing step.
It began in Grade 6 with the occasional request to walk part of the way on her own or to walk along with a friend. At first the friend would walk with us then they would walk on their own. It wasn’t all the time but I certainly noticed how I felt. Something was beginning to shift.
We did not get to finish our walks through the end of Grade 6 as the pandemic shut down schools with little notice. There were so many little things that she was looking forward to through the end of the school year that didn’t come to be. For me it was those final months of spring walks.
I love that my daughter has amazing friends that she loves spending time with them. I love that she is stepping into her own independence. I know that she will continue to do so and this is only the start.
Over the 6 months of the pandemic and through the summer she has grown so much. Through the isolation we’ve all experienced I saw her independence take off. So when it came to the first day of Grade 7 it did not surprise me that she wanted to walk with a friend. I did walk to the pond with her and her friend. Got a nice picture of us walking together. Then I gave her a big hug and kiss and off she went to begin a new phase of her life as I smiled watching her head off to school.
As I made my way back home I was full of mixed emotions. I remembered a quote that I have known for years by Dr. Seuss but saw recently on someone else’s social media post.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!”
Yes there is the need for some grieving of a phase of my daughters growth that has now passed. But now there is the excitement of discovering how our daddy-daughter time and our relationship will evolve to the next level. Where, when, and how will we be able to have quality time with one another through her teenage years.
I can’t wait to find out!
I write this post to all the dad’s out there who own a business or are immersed in a career that has you working long hours and feeling stuck and missing out on the lives of your kids, wishing things were different.
Did you know that “the average American father spends less than 20 minutes a day in direct communication with his child.” Unfortunately not much of a relationship can be developed with this little time.
It’s never too late to begin to reconnect with your kids and to create the type of relationship you and THEY have always wanted. Your own version of daddy-daughter time.
It probably starts with two things. One is your willingness to make some changes at work. The other is to simply reach out and start talking and listening to your kids.
Imagine where things will go!