“If You Only Had Three Days with Your Family, How Would You Spend Them?” originally appeared on The Good Men Project and was reprinted with permission.
It’s true you don’t understand what something means to you until it’s gone. You can try and embrace what you have and live in the moment, but without fail it seems we leave something to be desired. Maybe I shouldn’t speak for you, so I’ll transition into first person. I know that I spend more time doing things without my family than I should. Things outside of work. Maybe it’s writing an article, or a book, or shooting a video. Maybe it’s playing golf (golf is the most likely culprit — I’m an addict).
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading a lot about space and time. I picked up Stephen Hawking’s classic book A Brief History of Time over Thanksgiving holiday and began reading. Then I downloaded the StarTalk podcast and listened to some episodes about time travel. There is somewhat of a consensus that if time travel is possible (and the experts think it theoretically is), then we can only travel into the future. In short the only way this would be possible is if we could somehow travel faster than the speed of light.
This fact is important because it provides proof that we can’t go back in time. We can’t repeat days, weeks, months, or years of our life when we miss them. I know there are days, weeks, months, and years I wish I could repeat. Things I spent time on that I wish I could not have spent time on. But, regret won’t help anything. We just need to acknowledge mistakes we’ve made and figure out how not to make them again.
If we can’t relive the past, then we must learn how to live in the present. If you only had three days to spend with your family, how would you spend them? It’s a thought exercise that has done me some good recently. Some of you could be searching for a new career that will give you more time with your family, maybe you want to be an entrepreneur. I commend you for doing so if this applies to you. But I also ask you to think about what you can do to change how you spend your time now — before you make a career change. Because if you don’t make the time to spend time with your family now, it’s likely you’ll find other ways to fill it once you make a career change.
I encourage you to think about the Tim McGraw song “Live Like You Were Dying” — whatever your feelings on country music or the song itself may be — you can’t deny it sort of forces you to put things in perspective. You’re going to retire from your job at some point in your life. You’re going to come home one day and have grandchildren. At the end of the day, your family is what will prop you up, be there at your worst moments, hold your hand as you walk out of work for the last time. Your children are your legacy and your spouse is the blood that pumps through your heart.
If you only had three days to spend with your family, how would you spend them? I know I’d spend those three days at a park, running around with my son playing tag. Then we’d drive to a beach and we’d throw a frisbee or football and jump into the waves of the ocean. On the final day we’d cuddle up on the couch and snuggle while watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Spongebob Squarepants. Then I’d lay down with my wife and hold her tight. Hold her like there’s no tomorrow. I’d tell her that I love her and kiss her on the forehead. Then we would stay up all night talking about whatever random ideas came into our head. Of which at some point would inevitably take us to talking about how awesome it would have been to see Pearl Jam and The Grateful Dead in the same day.
One of us would fall asleep first and the other would stare and hug until they fell asleep.
Think about your family after you read this. A weekend is coming up. See if it’s within your power to turn those days into the best family time you can.
More from The Good Men Project:
- The dad who encouraged a dreamer
- The day my son earned his yellow belt
- The perils of ambivalence: 3 pitfalls that can cost you dearly
- 5 ways to minimize family conflict during the holidays
- 3 things overworked dads must do to have quality time with their kids