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Making Time: Covering All Bases
Maybe I’m not as prepared as I thought

A warm welcome to Voorhees’ Jason Springer, who will join us each month to share personal stories about family life in South Jersey.


 

“Daddy, why did the man put down the bat after he hit the ball?”

A seemingly simple question from my son while watching baseball.

His question reminds me again that even as a 40-year-old married father with a toddler and second child on the way, every day is still a learning experience. I was once naive enough to think I was prepared for adulthood – assuming college and a professional career had me on track – but marriage and children have proven to be a whole different ballgame.

I waited to make time to settle down with my wife and have children. I write “make time” because I used to say I couldn’t find time when asked about relationships. The truth is, I was making an active decision not to find one. Despite the fact that I was outgoing and could speak to nearly anyone, I wasn’t very confident when it came to dating and personal relationships. Instead, I chose to travel the country for work opportunities, spending a significant amount of time building a career and sacrificing personal growth to keep climbing the ladder. While I undoubtedly learned a lot about life and created a name for myself professionally, I realized along the way that I was not experiencing life fully. I didn’t make personal time for myself, and I avoided building intimate relationships.

But then I met my wife, and she helped me realize I could strike a balance between chasing personal/professional goals and building relationships, all while also starting a family. Even now I sometimes struggle to find that balance, but I take each day as a new opportunity.

After my wife and I married five years ago, we chose to operate as a team. We figured out how to support one another’s goals, have those difficult conversations, and communicate effectively. Then came the topic everyone asks immediately after marriage: When were we going to have children?

Coming from a divorced and blended family, I always imagined having children. My wife used to joke that I thought about the type of dad I wanted to be more than the type of husband I would be, and she was right.

Three years ago, I became a father and finally got my chance. Being a dad is everything I hoped it would be. I cherish the time I get to hang out with my little mini-me, and that I get to recreate my own childhood a bit. We watch cartoons I loved as a child, like Duck Tales, and now my son asks for episodes by name. We check out tractors on construction sites, and I see his eyes grow wide at their massive size. We explore playgrounds, and I notice his face lighting up when he successfully climbs a new piece of equipment. Although I thought so much about being a father, I didn’t realize how much he would make me stop and recognize the intricacies of other relationships as well, because I am mesmerized when I observe the special, separate bond he has with my wife, family members and even his own classmates.

I also did not fully comprehend how challenging toddlers can be. You see, my son can make me feel wanted, needed, loved and incompetent…often in the same conversation and at the same time. Despite all the professional successes and experiences I have had, he manages to teach me something new almost daily. Some days it is as simple as slowing down to appreciate the little things, like playing with bubbles or finding airplanes flying in the sky. Other days it’s questions that seem to puzzle us both, like where the fire engine might be when not in the firehouse?

Now we are on the cusp of becoming a family of four. Life, as I know it, is about to change again. I am excited to find our new normal and to see our son come into the role of big brother.

So, when my son asked about that baseball bat, I wondered, “Should I explain the rules of the game?” I could surely talk about the rules and nuances, but he’s just shy of 3 years old. How do you answer such a question? I glanced at my wife. She looked back and suggested, “Because you don’t run with something in your hand?”

February 2020
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