Time is precious.
If there’s one thing I learned when I became a father, it’s that time with my girls is precious.
Not only did I see how quickly Kylie was growing and changing; I’ve also had the luxury of watching all of my friends’ children grow up, graduate high school, and move out into the real world. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times:
Where did the time go?
That’s why I decided early on that I would read that one extra book to my daughters at bedtime. It’s why I let them play in the bathtub a few extra minutes, and stay at the park just a little bit longer.
No, my children aren’t manipulating me. It is me simply trying to cherish what little time I have with my girls. I now know all too well that the day will come when I wish I had just one more day with 3-year-old Kylie, or could read one more book to 2-year-old Kensley.
Of course, I draw boundaries where I must, but I am also not in any hurry to rush them through childhood.
As great as this acknowledgement sounds, sometimes life just takes over. Errands have to be run, bills have to be paid, and I still have to go to work. Unfortunately, these priorities can clash with spending time with Kylie or Kensley. Plus, patience can run a bit thin, even for someone like me.
This brings me to one special day back in August.
Per my usual routine, it was time to take Kylie and Kensley to daycare. However, I was running a few minutes late getting out the door, and work was a-calling.
I had Kensley buckled up in the car, but Kylie was asking if I could wait just one minute for her to go get something. In my haste, I replied as anyone would. While standing in the driveway behind our condo, the conversation went something like this:
Not now Kylie, we have to go. Daddy’s running late.
But Daddy, I just need one minute. I’ll hurry.
Kylie, please! We really have to go.
I promise, Daddy. I’ll hurry!
Although I was starting to fume inside, stressed about the work I needed to get done that day, I paused, took a breath, and said, “Ok, baby doll, go ahead. Please just hurry.”
What happened next will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Kylie walked as quickly as she could down to the edge of our driveway. She stopped to look both ways before crossing the utility road, then she crossed the road and ran past the small grassy area and bike path until she came to the small, tree-lined border to our development.
There, in the middle of all the trees and brush, was one little yellow flower. Not a whole bunch of flowers all over the place. Just one. Kylie knelt down, picked the flower, and came running back to where I was patiently waiting.
Now standing in front of me, Kylie looked up with the brightest little 4-year-old smile and said,
“Here Daddy, I picked this for you.”
Here Daddy, I picked this for you. In that moment, all of my stress, worry, and frustration seemed to simply evaporate. It’s hard to explain what filled the void, but I guess it was a combination of disappointment in myself, and a reminder of the preciousness of time.
It was as though a small weight had been lifted. It was as if to say, “Oh yeah, all that other stuff can wait. THIS is the thing that matters most right now.” That moment was about priorities and never forgetting what is truly important in life.
Yes, getting the kids to daycare is important. Yes, my work has to be done. But all Kylie needed was a mere two minutes. Just two. By giving her that, she gave me the love that only a 4-year-old daughter can give. She deserved to have it returned, not brushed aside because I was in a hurry.
So, I bent down on one knee and took the flower from her. I thanked her for thinking of me, and told her I loved her. She said, “I love you too, Daddy!” and hopped right in the car.
When it was all said and done, the kids got to daycare, and all my errands and work got done. But, by giving Kylie those two minutes, I now have a memory that will stay with me for a lifetime, and one that I will pass on to her one day when she becomes a mother herself.
Here is the flower Kylie picked for me on that special summer day.
Yes, because I’m a sappy father, I kept the flower. I had it framed with the date, August 1, 2017, and simply titled it, “Two Minutes.”
That flower sits in my office as a reminder to never forget what is truly important to me. It is a reminder of how short life is, and how little of it I will have with my girls.
One day, if Kylie has children of her own, I will pass that flower on to her in hopes that she seizes every moment she can with them.
Maybe, just maybe, she’ll also look at that flower and realize how much she meant, and still means, to her father.