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As the saying goes – or at least as the saying SHOULD go: “Time flies when you are having kids.”

Today I took my second child to her Montessori Kindergarten for the very last time. Soon she will start in “the big school”. It feels like yesterday that we signed up her older brother for kindergarten.

That older brother who is now going by public bus to his school.

Just a couple of months ago he would want me to walk all the way into the classroom with him.
Then he told me that it was ok to be dropped off by the main door. “It’s ok, pappa.” (shy to be seen led into school by his parent.)
Then he started to say that I only had to go with him to the school gate, and before I knew it he wanted me to let him go by himself from the bottom of the hill that leds to the school.
Then a few weeks ago he started to go by himself already at the overpass that leads to the hill.
Earlier this week he told me that he was ok to walk by himself 100 meter before the overpass.

And yesterday he left me behind at 200 meters before the over pass.

I know that in a couple of months he will go to school by school bus all by himself…

I am losing him step by step.

And it goes so fast.

It makes me so proud to see him grow up to be an independent boy, but let’s be honest, it stings in the heart…

It stings that these years of walking to school with my children ended – seemingly – just as it got started.

I have taken a conscious decision to spend a lot of time with my children when they are young.

I want to suck in as much of that innocent, unconditional, pure life energy I can before it is gone.

When I hear men talk about how they are looking forward to retirement I get confused.

Who cares about quitting work to go playing golf or ride a Harley when you are in your 60’s when you can choose to work a few years longer in your 60’s and instead spend time with your children when they are young?

In most countries in the world it is not common practice that men take time off to be with their children.

That is an absolute mystery to me.

The only way I can explain it is that if you do not take time off to be with your children when they are young you do not understand the magical magic (that is the only way I can describe it) that is living under your roof. You just do not see the kids enough to fully understand that magic.

And before you get a chance to understand it the moment is gone.

They have grown up and you never got to experience them.

If you are a man I urge you to look at your life and your “life-earnings” (i.e. how much money you are going to make from the day you were born to the day you will die) and at least consider the possibility of going down in time when your kids are young (= reduced income) and instead plan to work a few more years before you retire (= increased income). Your total “life-earnings” will be the same. Your life will not be the same.

When you die I am willing to bet that when you summarise the days of your life that were the best many of those days will be days when you took off to be with your children. And very likely they will score much higher than playing golf with your senior citizen buddies.

But do it today. Tomorrow the chance will ge gone.

You blink and your children have grown up.

Do not let that happen.

Do not let your best days of your life go un-experienced.

Fredrik Haren

A blog about the magic of fatherhood and paternity leave. Written by Fredrik Haren, professional speaker and author who is now on semi-paternity leave with his three children.

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