Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
We were in the van. We always seem to be in the van.
My thirteen year old was asking if she could watch the television show "Revolution" because some kids in her class were talking about it. She said it was the one where all the lights went out.
The kids started talking about what would happen if all the power went out.
I told my teenager that would mean her Ipod wouldn't work and she feigned horror and pretend to faint. I said no video games, no television and no computers would work. The boy said that would be terrible. He said he'd much rather have a zombie apocalypse than a power-out apocalypse.
And that's when my six year old said it. "I would love it if none of the computers worked," she said. "Because then Dad wouldn't be able to do work and he could play with me."
The kids all laughed. The thirteen year old knew that one hurt though. She didn't laugh.
That's the kind of comment that doesn't just hit you. It hits you, hits you again, and then wakes you up to hit you again later just to hear you say "ouch."
Now I could tell my six year old that I left work to stay home with the kids, I could remind her that I play basketball or volleyball with all the kids every single day, I do her homework with her every day, I take her and her brother to the playground when their older siblings have practice, and I could remind her that I'm her soccer coach even though I don't know the first thing about soccer.
I could tell her that the reason we can afford Catholic school is the work I do on my computer.
But none of that matters. She feels that I don't play enough with her. So instead of thinking of reasons she's wrong, I know I just need to do better. I pray that I do better.
Life comes down to decisions we make. I think our lives take shape best in retrospect. When we look back we more clearly see that our choices created a pattern. I think what I'm saying is that what we fill our days with define us. That’s a scary thought because I’ve filled my days quite meaninglessly at times. I think sometimes we don’t mean to become what we’ve become. It just happens while we’re trying to become something else. But we look back and see all along what we always were. And it wasn’t necessarily one decision which did it. It’s a thousand little ones.
I am a father. That’s what I am. My one thing. My vocation. Writing is something I do because it pays tuition and I enjoy it. But I’m a father. A father who needs to make sure he makes all those thousand little decisions correctly.
My first decision is to tell my teenager that she is not watching "Revolution." My second decision is to sit down and put together a puzzle with my six year old.