Mitch was at the hospital for a routine checkup with his neurologist. The frequency of visits had gone up because he had reached the age doctors wanted to start benchmarking his muscle wasting. I was always sure to clear off my schedule so I could go to the hospital with Natalie and Mitch. I never wanted Mitch to be scared and see an empty chair where his dad should have been. I never wanted him to feel alone. Until his dying day, I always tried to be there for him.
As we waited for the neurologist to arrive, Mitch and I sat at the examination table and had a make-believe battle with some toys the hospital gave him. When it came to parenting, I never lost sight of my responsibility to teach him correct principles and encourage him to govern himself. But when it came to playing … I always got on his level and played as though we were childhood peers. Mitch would get swept away in the little stories we would co-create. On this occasion, we imagined the exam table was the top of a snowy mountain … so high in the atmosphere, gravity was light, and you could see the stars at noonday. The fate of the universe was at hand, and the two of us were battling it out.
Mitch giggled as he found a creative way to defeat me and win the universe. I remember this moment like it was yesterday and it will always be close to my heart.
I have never regretted prioritizing my family. Not once. Though I’m an imperfect parent, I have come to learn when I invest in my family, it pays dividends for a lifetime. This moment was just such an investment, and my heart is paid with gratitude and love … and that heals me.
Tonight, I will invest time in my children like I did this day with little Mitch. I will try to give them all of me and let them know how much I love them. For not many years from now, I will look back on today and either pay the price of regret or win the glad dividends of doing the right things at the right time and be glad I lived the life I lived.