It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the everyday minutia and sometimes exasperating stress of raising kids that you can so easily miss the big picture stuff — the stuff that really matters, and that inspired you to become a parent in the first place. I know this is the case for me, way too much of the time. And while it’s hard to admit, it’s true.
As the last days of summer vacation continue to wind down, my head is filled with lists upon lists — ones that are frankly keeping me up at night. I need to make sure my boys’ back-to-school supplies are in order, that their summer projects are ready to be presented, that they have decent haircuts, and that their lunch boxes aren’t falling apart at the seams before they head off on their first day.
Sometimes I forget that everything is actually perfect the way it is, and that all I need to do is shower my boys with love, do a good enough job slogging through all the details of raising them, and then just spend as much time as possible absorbing their sweet faces and laughing at their ridiculous jokes.
Well, this morning, I was reminded of just that, when I came across a heartbreakingly beautiful post from a dad whose son tragically passed away a year ago. In it, Richard Pringle, a dad of three from Hastings, East Sussex, England, shares a list of the most important things he’s learned as a parent after losing his son Hughie to a rare brain condition a year ago this week.
Pringle’s post, which was shared on his personal Facebook page on August 23, has touched the hearts of parents everywhere — and not just those who’ve lost their own children. Pringle’s message sends a gentle reminder to all of us about what really matters when it comes to raising kids. In short, it’s all about being present with them, spending as much time with them as possible, and trying to minimize distractions, worries, or any of the other trappings of daily life that can bring us down, and shift our focus away from the things that matter most.
As a grieving parent, Pringle knows all too well just how fleeting our time with our kids really is. And it’s with that in mind that he begins his heartfelt message to us all.
“You can never ever kiss and love too much,” says Pringle, in his first of 10 heartwarming reminders. Throughout the post, Pringle reminds us more than once that spending time with our kids is pretty much the most important thing you can do as a parent — and that it’s all about setting an intention of making yourself available to your children.
“You always have time,” he reminds us all, “Stop what you’re doing and play, even if it’s just for a minute. Nothing’s that important that it can’t wait.”
Amen to that. I know it’s easier said than done sometimes, but it really is the crux of life. It’s why we all had kids in the first place, and we all definitely need that reminder once in a while.
Pringle’s main inspiration for sharing all this, of course, comes out of the heartbreak of losing his son, Hughie. As Pringle recently told Mirror Online, Hughie was only 3 years old when he passed away, and his death was sudden. Hughie had a known brain condition, but an unexpected brain hemorrhage caused his death, and broke his parents’ heart.
“He had a brain condition but was doing so well,” Pringle shared. “There was only a 5 percent chance of a bleed but unfortunately that 5 percent chance happened last year and he didn’t survive.”
Little odes to his son are now sprinkled throughout Pringle’s viral post, including a plea to parents not to show their love with material possessions, but rather through meaningful experiences.
“What you do matters,” writes Pringle, “Jump in puddles, go for walks. Swim in the sea, build a camp and have fun. That’s all they want. I can’t remember what we bought Hughie I can only remember what we did.”
Pringle, who also has two other children, encourages other parents to record as much of their children’s lives whenever possible, reminding us that someday it might be all we have left of them. He also recommends taking as many photos and videos as possible, and even recommends journaling as a way of recording your observations about life with your children.
“Keep a journal,” Pringle writes, “Write down everything your little ones do that lights up your world. The funny things they say, the cute things they do. We only started doing this after we lost Hughie. We wanted to remember everything. Now we do it for Hettie and we will for Hennie, too. You’ll have these memories written down forever and when your older you can look back and cherish every moment.”
These are such simply yet important reminders, and Pringle was so generous to open up his heart to all of us parents out there, and remind us of what matter the most in our parenting journeys.
But what’s most amazing of all is how this grieving dad could share all this love and positivity despite enduring a tragedy that no parent should have to experience.
Pringle’s resilient spirit is definitely inspiring, as is the beautiful way he has chosen to immortalize his son. He seems to have taken his own advice, and really was able to cherish those few short years he spent with Hughie.
“He was soft, gentle, caring and so lovable,” Pringle shared, as he described his son to Mirror Online. “He made the boring things fun. He made everything fun. In three short years he left us with a lifetime of the most incredible memories.”