This past weekend was 78 degrees and sunny in Phoenix (apologies to friends and family and readers living elsewhere during the winter months). It was also a holiday weekend with schools closed on Monday.
But more important to me, this past Saturday, I drove my 15-year old son to his first official job. He spent 11 hours this weekend reffing games for a local outdoor soccer tournament (holiday weekend, remember).
To me, it looked like a pretty fun experience. Officiating a 4-on-4 soccer match for 7-year old girls isn’t necessarily the pinnacle of stress. But I’m sure he was nervous, nevertheless.
In fact, I know he was nervous. Or at least he was nervous enough to ask me to stick around for his first game.
So I sat down in a chair next to some parents. It was fun watching my son ref. But I had just as much fun observing parents watch their young daughters learn the game of soccer.
Most of the time, they sat quietly in their chairs or they called out instructions, “Go get the ball.” “Kick it the other way.” “Run harder.” You can probably picture it.
Of course, not all parents sat. Some stood. And still others were off pushing a stroller… entertaining a younger sibling… or throwing the football with an older brother. Lots of young parents, as far as the eye could see, supporting and enjoying their kids.
Watching their faces, I vividly recalled a life that once was.
You see, it wasn’t all that long ago, I was one of those parents. My son was younger, learning soccer, and we were the proud parents watching him learn the game for the first time. My daughter also, was once one of the 7-year old girls jumbled up on the field, trying to kick a black and white soccer ball into the net.
But not this weekend. Those days are no more.
This weekend was about watching my son work hard on a job and earn his first paycheck.
Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours, weekends, and evenings sitting in a chair watching my son play soccer. I can remember, at times, being out of town or having to miss a game because of work. I can remember being distracted at some games answering emails or texts. And I can remember, on at least more than one occasion, not really wanting to spend another Saturday afternoon on a soccer field.
But all those reasons to not fully embrace that season of life seem foolish to me now. I don’t have any idea what could have been so important that I thought I needed to be answering emails or texts on my phone. Honestly, I don’t remember any of the emails that I answered or the texts that I sent.
This past Saturday, I wish I could have it all back. I wish I had put the phone away. I wish I had cancelled the work assignment or the speaking engagement. I wish I hadn’t wanted to be somewhere else.
I wish I could go back, just one more time, and watch a little boy learn to play a game he loves so much. I wish I hadn’t missed a single moment of embracing and enjoying fully that season of my life.
I suppose that’s how it is with life. When we’re in a season—whether it be single, newlyweds, young parents, raising teenagers, empty-nesters, retired, or anywhere in-between—the beauty of the season too often escapes us. The burdens and the stresses distract us. And we too easily miss the beauty of the forest because we’re distracted by the trees.
Later that evening, I drove my son back home. We talked about work and officiating and handling coaches and parents. We talked about money—giving, saving, and spending. We talked about sports. And we talked about driving (he gets his permit next month).
Somewhere along the way, he became a young man.
I did my best to resist any distraction that would have taken me away from that car ride. There were important lessons about life he was learning that day and I wanted to be a part of them.
The season of life with my son may have changed. But my opportunity to embrace and enjoy this one has not.
Thanks for sharing this touching, personal story. What a good reminder!
Julie Blough says
Touched?! A wonderful reminder to be present and enjoy each moment.
Barbara H says
To me this is one of your best articles. I also had a son that played soccer and a daughter that did competitive figure skating. Since my husband was the soccer coach I didn’t attend that many of the practices (I did always attend the games). What I do think about is how much I loved sitting and watching every time my daughter skated as I sat in the cold just watching from the stands of her ice rink. My children are both grown, she had two very little ones of her own now. There have been so many times I would give about anything to go back and watch those practices again. While I did for the most part pay attention, I know I should have watched with the “real understanding” that the time would be gone one day….all too soon.
As I read your article, my tears fill up. Miss the days of my boys being little. I would go back in a heart beat to play again and watch them. I was a stay at home Mom for many years and am very thankful for allowing myself to do so. Thank you for the reminder of time. Enjoy your children!
Joshua – Quite simply put and a very lovely story about your son’s first job experience. It is heartwarming to see that in his coaching position your son is able to pass on a skill he has learned and enjoys while being a role model to other youth. Our son coaches basketball for sixteen year old boys so your story gives has special meaning to me. Thanks.
You have a 15 year old son!!! Hard to believe. Seems like just yesterday I read your blog about him playing the backyard and you cleaning out the garage. Don’t blink! Time flies!
Mom of 7 & 9 year olds
Dawn Cozine says
Absolutely precious! Dads get a bad rap, but what you say about parenting is so true. “And this to shall pass…” and pass us by it does and quickly! Great job Dad your son has already made you proud and he’s only 15!
Thank you, Joshua. Thank you for waking me up and remind me that life is so precious. To not take anything for granted and take advantage of every moment. I am a young parent and I can’t tell you how much your post meant to me. I often face the feeling of “not wanting to be where I am” with parenting young ones… but you’re post is a reminder to drink every moment in. It doesn’t last forever. Everything else can wait. Thank you.
This post really touched me. I am in a point in my life where I feel that I need to step away from commitments and work to really be in the season that I am in. I sometimes feel that I miss so much or lose on participating in events because I prioritize the wrong things.
I am not a parent yet but my wife and I hope to buy a home this year and start having children in the next couple of years. This story really helps give me the right perspective on my life right now and in the future.
Oh my! I really needed this. I have teenager girls that play competitively and they play so much I officially have burnout. I’ve shoved the soccer duties to my husband over the past year, opting to stay home and catch up on chores. I needed to read this to know that all too soon, this time will be gone. Thanks so much for the reminder that time flies by, and once gone, it’s gone.