Dad, I Love This Day

All eight of us plus Mimi Silva.

Ten years and five months ago, Maile and I made the biggest move of our lives. I’ve talked about it before, but due to various financial situations and the strange coming together of uncontrollable forces, we had to move from a place we loved back to where I grew up (which was also a place I loved but wasn’t planning on returning to at that point). I didn’t have a job and we had four children and we moved into my parents’ basement. It was a hard time.

The hardest part of that whole show wasn’t living in my parents’ basement–it was rather cozy, kind of like a hobbit hole. And the hardest part wasn’t starting over again at 34, although that was tough. The hardest part wasn’t even the $60,000 in debt or getting through that first Christmas or scrapping for various part-time jobs or selling as much as we could.

The hardest part was the unknown.

We just didn’t know what was going to happen next. Would I ever get a job? Would writing projects come in? Would we ever be able to get our own place? How long until I figured it out?

Every day, every hour, every stinking minute, I had to grab control of my brain and bring it back into the present.

Do what you can now.

Focus on this moment.

Live in the present.

The only way I could keep from spiraling into a really dark place was by simply enjoying whatever it was I was doing in the moment: playing Candy Land with the kids or reading a book or working on a story or taking a walk with Maile. The future had too many variables, each of which felt way out of my control.

* * * * *

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be thinking ahead or trying to plan or make arrangements for what we’re going to do when this virus thing passes. But I am saying that it’s not helpful to permanently set up emotional camp in the future, to try dealing with all possible scenarios, to worry and worry and worry about how long this thing is going to last or what if that happens or how in the dickens are we going to get through this without losing our minds.

* * * * *

Leo calls for me from the bathroom. He needs me to wipe his butt. This is one of the parts of parenting we don’t talk about very much. Or at all. And mostly I think we should probably keep it that way–the less talk of wiping kids’ butts, the better, as far as I’m concerned.

Except for after I helped him out and he washed his hands and we were leaving the bathroom, he looked up at me and said, in his most sincere voice, “Dad, I love this day.”

Why would he say that?

Why wouldn’t he say that? We have plenty of food. He’s getting to spend time with the whole family, as much time as he wants. We go to the park. We play more games than usual. We’re eating dinner together every single night. He has his own personal butt-wiper.

I love this day.

This day. This day of uncertainty and viruses and plunging markets and economic shadows and elections and books to sell and all of that.

I love this day.

* * * * *

The weeks ahead can look long and uncertain. They might be long. Who knows. There are those among us for whom this sickness poses a significant threat, and that cannot be diminished, not if we’re going to love our neighbors as ourselves, not if we’re going to take care of each other.

But Leo’s words have been sticking in my head.

Dad, I love this day.

Those words open my eyes to the goodness of this day. And they also open my eyes and my heart to wanting to make this day good for those around me, for my neighbors, for my friends, for all of us isolated in our little spheres, dealing with our own emotions and problems and fears and uncertainties.

Let’s be there for each other.

* * * * *

When we were preparing to move north ten years and six months ago, Maile heard God’s voice in a way she never had before. It was like this pulsating thought in her mind, so strong she is certain it did not come from her own being. And in that moment God said…

“Maile, this is a gift.”

A gift.

“Well,” she replied, before rolling over and going back to sleep. “It’s a pretty shitty gift.”

But without that incredibly hard time, we wouldn’t have experienced much of the amazing things we’ve experienced in the last ten years, things I wouldn’t trade for anything. Would we have had our final two kids without going through that? Would I have written any of my books or met any of these amazing writing friends?

Ever since then, when hard times come, I wonder.

Could it be possible that this is a gift?

* * * * *

Dad, I love this day.

Check out our latest podcast episode, this one with award-winning author Devi Laskar. Her main message? Don’t quit. Keep going. You can listen HERE.

3 Replies to “Dad, I Love This Day”

  1. Oh, Shawn. What a beautiful post. Thank you for this fresh perspective on a very troubled time. Blessings and good health to you and your sweet family.

  2. This is truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing. And thank you for offering a writing class for kids next week for free. That is a beautiful gift as well.

  3. Dear Shawn, I am crying. Moved to tears because of the simple beauty in a child’s unedited, uneventful, honest declaration of the truth of the moment. “I love this day.” Thank you. I found you in the most unlikely of ways- someone in my online writing group asking a question about Mailchimp with a link you had posted. Now you have a new subscriber:) Thank you to your little five-year old!

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