Friday last week was the most depressing day with my children that I can think of. It was the last day of my 6-months of paternity leave. The feeling when I left my son at day care on Friday was absolutely horrible and came out of nowhere. Somehow I imagined my return to work being a relief but it was instead very emotional. Suddenly I realized it would be the last day in a long time I would leave Daniel, play the rest of the day with Annika, and then go and pick Daniel up in the afternoon. I left Daniel with his teacher on the playground and as he waved goodbye my eyes were all watery. I had to run away before I started crying.
Not many fathers have the will, stamina, and financial opportunity to stay home half a year with two kids. Even fewer have the desire to do it with both his children. It's not suitable for everyone that's for sure. But if you have a possibility to stay home for an extended time with the children, take it. You will never regret it. I promise. The children are only young once, it's easy to forget this simple fact.
I hear so many fathers talking about how things will change. How they will work less, take the children swimming or skiing, attend all events at school, be there for doctors appointments, stay up through the night when the kids barf, and become extremely dedicated fathers. So far, I've NEVER seen it happen. Not once. If the desire wasn't there from the very beginning, I've never seen it change. I'm sure it happens, I just haven't seen it.There is no substitute for spending time with the kids. Without lots of time one will never be an outstanding father. One might be decent or good but in my view never superb. A father must be there for the kids in order to get that extremely close contact and hard to find, special relationship. Paternity leave may not be a must, but plenty of time sure is.
Being a weekend father has never appealed to me. You know, come home from work and hug the kids, then take them to the park over the weekend while reading the paper. I'm so glad I've had possibility to stay home with the kids for such a long time. And I'm even happier I decided to take that opportunity and built something special with my children (and wife).
Daniel and Annika, you're outstanding kids. It's been a privilege to be so close to you for these past six months. I will never forget it.
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