There are few things I enjoy more than the one on three time I spend with my kids whenever my wife goes on a spiritual retreat (three times a year).
This past weekend was one of those weekends.
Sure, they can be very hectic weekends and, at times, a bit stressful but, as the commercial says, the rewards are priceless.
On Saturday, we had a very busy and tight schedule. My older daughter had jazz dance class from 11:00am to 2pm. My younger daughter had a birthday party from 1:00pm to 3pm (as I mentioned last week, my kindergartener has a very busy social calendar this month). I had to show a property in Kendall at noon (although real estate is not my main line of work, I use my license to help my wife whenever she's tied up). And finally, we had a get-together with some of the husbands, whose wives were at the retreat, and their kids, to watch the University of Miami game against Ohio State at 3:30pm (while the kids went in the pool).
I was able to coordinate everything well and dropped off, picked up and were at the right places at the right time.
Watching the game however was a bit stressful for me, not only because the Hurricanes were giving it away, but because I had to keep a close watch on my 3-year-old son. He took swimming lessons over the summer and thinks he can swim with the big kids (he's fearless), but still barely stays afloat and swallows more water than I would prefer. Fortunately, our host had a couple of arm floaters and, after putting them on him, he was fine. Even so, there was never a comfortable moment for me. All I needed was to have a mishap with my son while my wife was away. I have never lived down the time I let my older daughter roll off our bed, where I had left her to throw out some papers, when she was 6 months old, which scared us so much that we had to call the rescue. Or the time, when my son was a couple of months older and rolled off our bed while I was sound asleep next to him (They both were fine. Babies are resilient but the reminders have been haunting me ever since).
Anyway, the two cigars and case of beer we drank, took some of the edge off (but never fully).
All right, so I’ll admit, when my wife is away, I don't have the discipline that she does (come to think of it, when she is around, I still don't have the discipline that she does). Both Friday and Saturday nights, we did not have dinner until after 9:00pm and they did not bathe until Sunday morning (before Mommy got home!). Hey, they were swimming in a pool for about three or four hours on Saturday, doesn’t that count?
But, there is nothing more satisfying than when my girls are fighting over who gets to sleep in Daddy’s bed (that my son was sleeping with me was a given but the girls took turns one night each). Or, when the four of us were lying in bed together Sunday morning, as my son and older daughter jousted for space on my chest and stomach to cuddle up closer to me and my son exasperatedly barked at her, "Manu, Papi es mio."
It is in living these moments, where their attention is, by default if nothing else, focused entirely on me and mine, maybe also by default, is focused entirely on them, that God gives me one of the greatest opportunities to imitate His Fatherhood by showing them unconditional love and being the shepherd that I was meant to be.
Thank you, Lord...