Father Time presents:
“Life & Times – Fathers and Their Views about Time”
Featuring a real-life dad offering his take on time.
For the past five weeks, Father Time has profiled five different men, all real fathers from different parts of the United States, all different in their ages, cultural backgrounds, family shapes and sizes, and views on time. This week, I’ll review some highlights, and trace the similarities amongst these five fathers.
Let’s start with: when did time start to matter?
Almost every man I interviewed said something to the affect that time itself started to matter, only when they either, A) got married, or B) had children. Conversely, they also said that time was almost irrelevant when they were single; that time was immeasurable and all their own.
Kyle H. said: “When you’re a single man time almost stands still. Days are long, and you can control time in a sense.”
Tom B. remarked: “The moment time started to matter was when it wasn’t my own anymore. … It all changed when each decision I made affected someone else.”
While each interviewee characterized singlehood as something akin to endless free time, they each understood that that era was over and time was now shared, or at least dependent upon the needs of their immediate family.
Shaun H. said, of leaving parties, “SINGLE me would have vanished into the night. Even MARRIED me would have driven separately from my wife so I had my own option. MARRIED WITH KID me had no option. … I don’t choose when to leave. It’s a Family Decision.”
This awareness of self within a family unit—one that moves and acts together—is a key distinction about the agency of single man, versus the communality of married-father man. Call it the B.C. to A.D. moment in a man’s life. The end of one long chapter, and the start of a brand new one, in which the entire concept of time is refashioned.
Where this key moment in time was viewed with wistfulness amongst the interviewees, there was a clear understanding and recognition that time as a father is all the more precious, and even more valuable than while single.
Kyle H. said: “As soon as I had children, my life has sped up. With that being said, time means more now than ever, I cherish moments more than I did as a single man.
Johnny L. said, of his teenage daughters, now one already off to college: “I wish I had made even more of an effort to spend time with my children. I swear they went from toddlers to teenagers over night! Don’t take time for granted!”
The most common thread amongst these interviewees, and I believe if you ask any father—not just this micro-sample of guys I know—that for them, any time with family is a victory. For fathers, it seems, simply being with their wives and kids is the most valuable time.
Tom B commented, “Each time … [my daughter] climbs on my back, my shoulders or tummy, I consider it a victory in fatherhood. My own father didn’t do that kind of stuff with me, so I’m happy my little girl and eventually my little boy, can do that with me. Even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time a day, it still adds up over time and reinforces our bonds constantly.
Randy S. said, “What I have really learned is that each day we do something together is a success. I might not necessarily view it that way when the kids are tucked in and I am dead tired next to a pile of unfolded laundry or a sink full of dirty dishes, but somewhere down the line, I will look back and be grateful for the time we spent together.”
All of the interviewees over the past five weeks are full-time, working men, and it’s those eight or so hours a day away from the family unit that they all realize ultimately takes away from the overall time spent with those they love most. In the end, isn’t that what we all want? To be with our loved ones all the time.
Thanks to Randy, Shaun, Kyle, Johnny, and Tom for your candid answers and your contribution. And most of all, thank you for your time!
Links to articles in the series: