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Being a Dad,  Being a Husband

When Your Toddler Calls You Out With Cuteness

I was recently laid off from my job. My team’s client had significant budget cuts, and training contractors were of course the first to go. So my employer gave me the choice of traveling full time to another client and being home only on Saturdays, or being laid off.

My wife and I made the hard decision to say goodbye to a very decent paycheck, and we’re now on one income as I take the stay at home dad route, spending time with our daughter and attempt to get into independent contract work and build a couple small businesses.

This new phase of life started three days ago. I’ve spent my days with my seventeen-month-old daughter while also sitting in front of my laptop. And doing dishes, and laundry, and repeatedly picking up toys.

I spend a fair amount of time sitting at the bar with my laptop, browsing for independent contractor positions on LinkedIn, brainstorming small business ideas, and coding CSS.

While thinking and typing and Googling, I listen for noises… you know the ones. Chewing when there’s no food; papers or fabrics sliding on the floor, indicating a potential fall; the word “up!” as she climbs haphazardly onto some piece of furniture.

But I often plow ahead with my if everything sounds “normal.” And I occasionally get semi-absorbed in my work. If I haven’t talked to her for a few minutes, she will walk over to my chair and wave to get my attention. She then proceeds to look me squarely in the eye, still waving her precious little hand, and says, “Hi!”

As if to say, “hello, Daddy, I’m here!” Only without the condescending, accusatory tone that we adults tend to have, because she is still little and cute. But despite the cuteness, it’s clear that she notices I’m focused on my computer instead of her.

pay-attention
Um, hellooooo… are you even listening to me?

What’s so striking about it is that she doesn’t demand my attention by throwing a fit; she simply reminds me she’s there. She doesn’t whine; she smiles, cheerfully says “Hi!” and then goes back to playing. So at this point, I can choose to continue working or stop and play with her or talk to her.

Sometimes, I choose my daughter; other times, I choose to continue working. It’s a delicate balance – the work is important for family finances, but spending time with her is just as important. The thing I’ve realized is that I must ask myself why I continue working when she busts me for not paying attention.

Is it because the work I am doing is important? Because I’m not at a stopping point? Or am I annoyed by the interruption, or locked in on some insignificant task?

When it’s God Seeking Our Attention

God often prompts us in a similar way. He’ll tap our shoulders via a social media scripture post or a beautiful sunrise or our kids’ beautiful smiles. And we love to continue looking away from him, too busy to spend quality time in his word, in prayer, in teaching, and in worship. There’s so much else we can do with our time: work, household chores, Netflix, even ministry. But God calls us to serve him and to know him, so that we can serve and love others.

Yet we still get way too busy serving ourselves. And we waste hours mindlessly scrolling on our phones instead of working on something with lasting value. To combat this, we need structure.

A rhythm.

Quiet time with Jesus.

Time with our kids.

Checking in on our wives.

A routine that includes rest, reflection, and gratitude.

Don’t Waste the Present

Time is so precious, and yet it’s so easy to waste it on insignificant things. Don’t be a dad and a husband who squanders the time he had with his kids while they were still little.

We have to be vigilant about using our phones as tools instead of as the default cop-out when we’re tired. We must choose our kids and our wives over ourselves. We must focus on our kids and wives while they are in front of us. And we must master our mornings by hitting the most important things first to set up a better, more fruitful day.

Photo credit: Pixabay user yohoprashant

I'm a 32-year old living in Gilbert, Arizona (that's in the Phoenix metro). I love Jesus, my wife, and my daughter and am doing my best to choose the three of them instead of myself - one choice at a time. I enjoy learning about Jesus, writing, photography, coffee, donuts, and good conversation. My personal website where I share my photography and design projects is joshsmithaz.com.

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