I thought I was in the running for Dad of the Year. But I wasn’t really even there.
It was May 6, 2010. My son Jack, nearly six years old, filled with joy and excitement as we approached Citizens Bank Park for a “businessperson’s special” day game. The boxscore tells me Jason Werth hit a three-run homer in the first and the Phillies never looked back.
My life was wonderful. Two great kids, a loving wife, a meaningful job. I was a family man, racing home each night from work to spend every minute possible with my family.
Halfway through the game, I received a call from our trader. The stock market was crashing. There was really nothing I could do from a baseball stadium that I wouldn’t likely regret later. So I gave him a few instructions and said I’d check back in after the game. While this was a significant event, my response wasn’t that different to most everyday situations. Put away the phone and return to my family, but only in body, not quite in mind.
Returning to our seats, Jack buzzed with excitement as Roy Halladay mowed down hitter after hitter. “Dad, did you see that?” “Do you think he’ll pitch a complete game?” “Can I have an ice cream?” My go-to response was a spiritless “uh-huh.” My mind was distracted. I contemplated what tomorrow would bring and what I could have done to prevent any losses from the crash ahead of time. I was distracted and a bit lost.
As my pal Thom shared in response to this story, “Its like staring at the top of a friend’s head as they stare at their cell phone; sporadically saying ‘go ahead, I’m listening’ as if it were some sense of reassurance for you. There but not present.”
My dad took me to Milwaukee Brewers games as a six-year old too. His love was unconditional and unwavering. But also distant. Always staring off in to space, never able to remember the big hits and plays on the car ride home. As I sat there watching Jack watch the Phillies crush the Cardinals, I recognized what I had been looking at as a child in my dad’s face. And I knew that had to change.
Meditation and mindfulness offered a tool to me to be present in any moment, regardless of what was running through my head. It also provided some self-compassion because I won’t always get it right. Does this story sound familiar? If so, please check out Mindful Dads Meeting on Wednesday, October 11 at 8pm at Woodlynde School. Be sure to register in advance.
Also this month from Center For Self-Care
Mindful Men Meeting, Thursday, October 5 at 7:30 pm (membership required, email for details)
Mindfulness is For You: Tools for Self-Care and Stress Management, Not just for men! Tuesday, October 24 at 7 pm, Ludington Library in Bryn Mawr (free, registration required)