My End Of The Bargain

Tuesday Sime

Two days ago, my kids — still dressed in their pajamas — came bounding down the stairs. In unison, they were shouting, “We want to make slime!”

Ahh … slime. I can’t hear the word slime without thinking about Double Dare or You Can’t Do That On Television. Two Nickelodeon game shows that ran in the 80’s and 90’s. Shows that my sister and I used to watch on our summer vacations, as kids.

Where Maddy and Collin got the idea for slime … heavens knows. But they asked for slime and so we made slime.

You see, my Tuesdays look at lot different in the summers. Rather than listings, lunches and conference calls, it’s more like parks, slime, and backyard water balloons.

From the time that Maddy was a newborn — almost six and a half years ago — Tuesdays have been my assignment. As the two of them have grown, a lot has changed.

Except for Tuesdays.

During the school year, it’s not too terribly difficult to maneuver my schedule around drop offs, pick-ups and extracurricular activities. The summer? Well, that’s a different ballgame, for sure.

And while I am not a ‘Dad of the Year’ candidate, at all times, I told myself from day one that if I had regrets, one of them would never be the amount of time invested into the well-being and development of my two little ones.

It’s important to me to be an ‘equal’ parent.

My Tuesdays look at lot different in the summers. Rather than listings, lunches and conference calls, it’s more like parks, slime, and backyard water balloons.

I had breakfast with a buddy of mine the other day. We were talking about our kids and fatherhood. He told me a story about a colleague of his that recently confessed to “not having ever spent more than 8 hours in a row, alone with his kids.” All that I could think was, wow.

It reminded me of an article I read recently, referencing a study that said 46 percent of fathers feel that they spend too little time with their children. It stated that fathers, on average, devote about seven hours a week to “child care.” Mothers, more than double that number.

I’m certainly not one to stand in judgment of parents — working or otherwise. It’s a tough gig. Everyone has to find a rhythm that works best for them. But I’ve also always found it a little bit sad to watch some dads show up at preschool lunches or end of year programs with no idea where to find their child’s classroom.

I cannot take much credit though. I was blessed to have grown up with two parents who modeled sacrifice, support, time and attention. Those qualities were baked into me from a young age.

My home environment was one of discipline and high standards. But from the time I was a young boy to the day I moved out on my own — even through college — I can count on one hand the number of times my parents were absent from something that mattered to me.

And if they did, it was because they were with my sister elsewhere.

46 percent of Fathers feel that they spend too little time with their children.

That, as a kid, is something that is very easy to take for granted. You don’t know any differently. But as an adult … as someone who is responsible for making those same sacrifices, it’s certainly not lost on me.

As I write this article, I am reminded of an exchange that I had with my mother a little over two years ago.

At the time, I was struggling a little bit — juggling both my personal and professional responsibilities. She’d sent me a kind, motherly response, to a recent newsletter article that I’d written.

From the time you were a little t-baller until you played your last game as an adult, I felt like I threw every pitch, caught every fly ball, took every at bat with you. I also shared in spirit every victory, every defeat and every crushing blow. That is a mother’s heart, as you now know. So with that said, I want to share in your current journey as well; I want to help you find that mission you feel is waiting for you to discover. Do keep in mind that at this season in your life, a huge part of your mission is caring for and providing for your family. Whatever else you add in your service to others must not interfere with that responsibility …. Risks can and should be taken … however, those risks must be chosen carefully so that those who depend on us are not forgotten or neglected … I know it’s important to you to hold up your end of the bargain.

Note From Mom

She’s 100% correct. It is important. I think about that all the time. I take a lot of pride in what I do but I am undoubtedly a parent first.

I’m not a fan of writing in platitudes, particularly when it comes to unsolicited parenting advice. But there is no getting around the fact that mykids are only this age once.

That same article I read pointed out the fact that from the age of newborn to 18 years old, we have 936 weeks to spend with our kids.

For Madeline, at six and a half, 348 of those weeks have already passed. Another 420 will be consumed by school. That leaves a scant 18% of her “childhood” to make these types of memories.

So when they ask for slime … in my book, there is only one choice to make. We are going to make slime. If it matters to them, then it’s the best investment I can make.

Thank you Mom and Dad for instilling in me that valuable lesson.

Time to live up to my end of the bargain.

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Ryan France

Ryan France is a native of Austin Texas, father of two, super-early riser, avid reader, admitted podcast junkie & bulletproof coffee addict. In a past life, France was an aspiring professional baseball player. Today, Ryan is an entrepreneur, author and relentless innovator of the real estate industry. Read more on the "Who is Ryan?" page.