The dog licks my hand to wake me up. It’s 5 a.m. My hand is wet and she is earlier than her usual 6:00 a.m. walk. I tell her to go lay back down and she does. But as soon as she does, she starts to lick herself loudly.
I am now awake, and as consciousness rolls in the thoughts of what I have to do for the day fill my head like gumballs in a gumball machine: I have to prepare that brief. Am I ready for that hearing? What meetings do I have today? What do the kids have today? Does Heidi have a meeting tonight?
The thoughts grow exponentially and I realize that I will not go back to sleep. At 5:10 a.m. I push back the covers and set my feet on the creaky wood floors. I can feel the pain in my ankles from yesterday’s run. I get two steps and then there is a soft voice.
“Dad,” my son says from his bedroom. It’s quiet and I can hear in his voice that he is still half asleep. Before I can even turn to his room his voice grows louder.
“Dad!” He is now more awake and sure he wants me.
I walk a couple more steps and am almost to his door.
“DAD!” he now yells.
“Calm down buddy. I am here. Lay back down.” I say in a calm manner.
I then lay down with him and hold him. He calms down and quickly falls asleep. As his breathing becomes louder the thoughts of all I have to do continue to fill until the gumball machine explodes from all the pressure. How can I have so many things to do? Was it easier when I was younger, single and free of responsibilities? Did I have more to do then?
Feeling the tug of the day I look for my opportunity to get out of his bed and get going with the day. I have so much to do. Its 5:30 a.m. I have wasted 30 minutes. How will I get that back?
As I make sure my son is asleep and move gently out of the bed, the thought enters my head to slow down. Stop what you are doing. Look at that boy.
I obey the voice in my head and see one of the most important parts of my life; his sister and mother are the others. I am overwhelmed for some reason. Tears come to my eyes. A few years ago none of this existed. A few years from now everything will be different. He won’t want me to hold him then. Will I be in such a rush then to get to
everything that must be done? Will there be more to do then?
7:00 a.m. I wake up and realize I fell asleep next to him. I look over and see him there, peacefully asleep.
I can’t hold off the day any more. I have to get up. But before I do I take a few minutes to just watch him and remember this particular moment, free from any thoughts of today or its obligations, and take in the joy of simply being a dad.