I do remember the moments. My father often worked long, long hours when I was growing up. He also worked a rotating shift so the hours were always changing. Even after becoming management, he continued to put in the same hours often 10-12-16 hours a day. He worked hard to provide for our family so that our mother could stay home.
But what I remember about growing up is not him being gone. I know he worked long hours. I know he was often gone or sleeping while we were awake. But that's not what I remember.
I remember him reading me bed time stories when I still had Smurf sheets, I was probably 4 at the time. I remember trips to the zoo. I remember him bringing us ice skating probably every week in the winter. I remember that once he used to ice skate with us, but as I got older and brought a friend, he would just sit and read the paper while we skated. But he was there. I remember sledding with him and going the the Brooklyn Pickle after for sandwiches and hot cocoa. I remember loving to go to the grocery store with him. Vacations to Road Island, camping every summer (even though we camped close to his work so that he could go back and forth between work and camp) I just remember him being there.
Now that I'm grown, with children of my own and I find myself trying to balance 10 and 12 hour days at work, with raising kids, keeping a house, being a wife - I often wonder how he did it.
I think it's just that it was important to him. He was one of 12, and his father worked 2 jobs. I know that he has some resentment towards his father, mostly for not being there for my sister and I. My father is also very involved in my childrens lives.
I mean, I guess what it comes down to is that it was just a priority for him to spend time with us. And it's a priority now for him to spend time with my children.
You can't force memories. I mean, I try to create traditions. I try to capture moments. Sometimes I wonder what my kids will remember about growing up? Will they remember the long hours I worked, the time I spent away? I know they miss me, they tell me. But maybe they'll remember coming in with Chinese food on some of my 12 hour Sundays and having dinner at work with me. Maybe they'll remember how I had a home cooked meal on their table every night, even when I wasn't there to eat it with them. They tease me about having to make everything from scratch, sometimes they are jealous that their friends get store bought candies and fruit roll ups, but hopefully someday they'll look back and be glad about that. Hopefully someday they'll do the same for their families. Maybe they'll remember camping every summer and hiking waterfalls. I hope they do.
Sometimes I get discouraged and sad over my idea of what I want life to be and the reality of what it is. I hope that if I keep living intentionally, living slowly, that it will all come together. That someday none of us will look back and remember the days and the daily grind, we'll all just look back and smile over these moments.
I've been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting these last couple of weeks, thanks for coming along with me while I sort through it all.