The dog licks my hand to wake me up. It’s 5:00 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 started. 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, something from somewhere enters my head telling me 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. 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.