Hug The Ones You Love
Dad blogging lost one of its heroes this past weekend. His name was Oren Miller and cancer took him from us. Oren started a Facebook group in December of 2012. His goal was to create a community for dads to share ideas, increase their influence and help create a better form of fatherhood. He simply named it Dad Bloggers.
I joined the group a few months later upon the suggestion of my wife. She heard about it from one of her online friends and told me. Oren was more than gracious to me when I joined. When Abigail was several days overdue with Mr. Dude, Oren wrote a small blog post encouraging others to connect with us and show support.
I’m writing this post at the end of March, when Joel’s baby is 9 days overdue. I can empathize–our first kid was two weeks late, so I know how difficult this time is for him. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that fun for his wife, but considering most parents expect/hope their baby comes out a couple of weeks before the due date, you’re talking about a very stressful month for both almost-parents.
Life with children can seem so difficult at times. The Dad Blogging group started by Oren has been a real source of encouragement, advice and opportunity for me. I was thinking about this just yesterday. My wife was away for work. I had lots of things to get done and Mr. Dude was not cooperating. He chose the day I had a big homework deadline and an important work deadline to skip his daily nap. I’m most productive when he’s napping and had planned my day’s to do list around it. We spent hours going round and round trying to get nap time to take place. It just wasn’t happening.
The tasks and daily routine that stand before us as parents tower over us at times. The things that need to get done are sometimes insurmountable, but we want/need to tackle them anyway. I pondered on Sunday afternoon the details I have to attend to ad nauseam while there is a toddler in the house. I was reminded of Oren’s words after he found out that he had Stage 4 lung cancer in May of 2014. Those words on the blog post that shared the news were a wake-up call me in that moment:
4 years ago, in the summer of 2010, we were at Bethany Beach, and everyone was having a great time. Our family and some friends were building sand castles, going in and out of the water, and just relaxing in general–everyone except anxious old me. I had hundreds of unread emails and dozens of ideas for blog posts I didn’t have time to write, and I was surrounded by too much sand and not enough coffee. I tried to pretend I was having a good time, but people could see I was out of my comfort zone, and worse, that I didn’t want to be there.
It was only on the drive back home that I had the epiphany. It was only on the drive back that I realized what I had been missing out on. It was only on the drive back that I realized I had been experiencing the biggest tragedy of human existence: I was having the time of my life, and I didn’t even know it.
Here I was spending time with my son, but I was only getting frustrated with him. He’s almost two and can’t control some of his energetic outbursts yet. I remember being around his age and never wanting to sleep. Oren’s words caused me to stop and enjoy the moment. Mr. Dude and I gave up on nap time happening that day. We gave it a valiant effort, but in the end had a mid-afternoon snack in the kitchen followed by uninterrupted play time and a bundle of laughs.
Why did Oren like being a dad?
He answered that question at the 2014 Dad 2.0 Summit:
I’m honored to have been able to count Oren as a friend. We interacted a lot online and were able to meet in person once. His funeral is today and I am unable to attend. I am however able to donate some money in his name to his family to help cover funeral and other such costs associated with losing a parent. If you feel so led you can do so too:
Live in the moment. Enjoy everything, even if you have “better things to do.” These moments happen once (or a million times) but they eventually end. My son will be two soon. Never again will he be one year old. I need to cherish these moments. Even if he and I stick around for decades to come these moments of him as a toddler will never repeat once they play out. Work can wait. Homework can wait. Household chores can wait. These giggles, hugs and memories cannot.