When it became obvious back in March that I was going to lose my job, I began planning my summer home with the boys. While optimistic, I really did not expect to get a new job and was counting on getting through the summer on severance. So, the running half-joke was “Daddy Summer Camp” – a list of all the things the boys and I would do through the summer. They included staying a couple of days with our friends in the Poconos, day trips to go fish and hang out on the lake I grew up near with my sister and her grandson, movies on rainy afternoons, teaching Matt how to ride his bike, bike trips on the rail trail, mini-baseball camp, mini-basketball camp, and the list went on and on.
It got to the point where it felt like the silver lining of losing my job could help me forget everything else. I really liked the thought of spending a summer with my sons, especially at the age they are at now where they like hanging out with me and haven’t yet discovered that I am a big dork. I even began to have romantic thoughts of being able to sit out in the backyard and write a little bit…maybe work on my novel.
On my last day at my old job, about 30 minutes before a sort of exit call with my old boss, I was offered a job. A wave of relief washed over me. There are a lot of people out there who struggle to find work and sometimes even interviews. I was blessed to have received a job offer after averaging an interview every two weeks or so. I knew right away (pending another job that was still up in the air) that I was going to accept the job. I knew it was the right thing for me and for our family.
Yet, as much as the logic of the situation settled in and six months of stress was removed, I was, at the same time, crushed emotionally. I had started looking forward to Daddy Day Camp. Spending a summer with the boys was a thought that just brought me such joy. The new job, as selfish as this sounds, was a crushing blow to me. It made me incredibly sad. I had lost my summer.
Fortunately, I was able to take a full month off. For the first three weeks, I was able to get things done around the house during the day and then get Ben and Matt at the bus stop and hang out with them and play. When school ended, we jammed as much as we could in a week. A trip to Dorney Park, a fishing trip, a couple of days in the Poconos, a movie and a few other things. Matt even learned to ride his bike. The month and that week, especially, was a wonderful time. I still feel full of joy when I think of it.
The couple of days before I started my new job, I just felt rotten. My old job allowed me to work at home a few days a week when I needed and I had a lot of flexibility. The fact that my new job, during the probationary period, would have none of that actually made me angry. It was a difficult transition. It felt like the summer was over and I mourned its loss.
A few days after I started the new job, however, I made a decision that I wasn’t going to let the summer slip away. Even though the days, like most human beings, were going to be spent working, I didn’t have to let that be the summer. I realized that Summer Nights are long. I decided I was going to take the nights.
So, instead of coming home and just crashing in front of the TV, I started playing basketball with Ben and Matt. We play chess, sometimes outside and we ride our bikes. We have Nerf gun battles, play soccer and plan our next adventures. Sure there are times when I need to just crash a bit when I come home and there are nights when we don’t do anything, but we have packed so much into this summer, it is unbelievable. I am determined to make the most of it.
In light of the news from this week, “Carpe Diem” seems to be an overly appropriate phrase right now. Making the most of each and every day and night (a quick internet search turned up the phrase Carpe Noctem, which might be more appropriate for my thoughts here, but there seems to be a connection to vampires with that) really makes the days brighter. Everyone knows that working sucks, but I won’t let it define me.
I am a father first…a Papa, and by seizing these summer nights, I am letting that define me. I will not let this summer pass me by…”Aestate Apprehendite”!