I was never fond of children. I always joked that I have a talent in making them cry. But everything changed when Sarah-Faith was born. Raising her and now, along with our second one, changed a lot on how I perceive about raising children.
I am not writing this because I am a great father, nor I am the type that enjoys every single moment with them.
Like many things in life, there are ups and downs. I have my joyful moments, and also there are times when I struggle. 😛
I remembered bringing Sarah-Faith to the library while waiting for Wai Jia to finish her class. I was literally counting down in minutes as I repeatedly put back DVD cases which Sarah-Faith was furiously throwing them on the floor. Only later, I realized toddlers learned by taking stuff apart 😛
The biggest lesson I am learning is that the times I spent with my children is not time wasted. It is time invested.
There is a part of me that I find it is easier to tell others I am helping the homeless or I am training for a triathlon. When it comes to watching children, it seems boring.
When we came back to Singapore, we were exploring plans on how to take care of our children when Wai Jia goes back to work. The most straightforward answer is to put them in preschool. One night, while exploring all the possible options and after visiting multiple schools, Wai Jia told me, “the priority is not to free us up so we can do our own thing. We need to plan what is best for them.” Wisdom!
I must admit there is part of me want to free up my time from watching my kids so I can do something more worthwhile. Isn’t it ironic that watching my children is not considered as worthy?
Where I spend my time is what I value. When I was preparing for Ironman, I do whatever it takes to carve time to train. This means having no social life and sleeping at 9:30 pm on a Friday night, so I can get up early on Saturday. Now if I value my children, it will be a contradiction for me to spend as little time from them as possible.
I am also learning too, that as a father, it is my responsibility to raise them. There is no program, no school, no Sunday school, no church, and no caregiver that can replace my job. The buck stops here. I cannot blame anyone or the church if I don’t teach them what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Side note: I am thankful for the volunteers and staff that are part of the Sunday school in our church. My point is that children learn the most from their parents.
I am the one who is responsible for raising them in a Godly way instead of chasing what the world craves, the hollow feeling of obtaining wealth that rust. Instead, to be joyful in bringing His light to a dark and dying world.
Whether they will follow Jesus is their choice. But I must ensure that it is not my neglect that causes them to abandon the faith.
I realized that the way to do so is simple but costly. Simplicity in that I don’t need fancy gadgets or expensive programs. Costly in time, effort, and attention. Costly in putting my phone down and not checking Facebook so I can be present with them. Costly in knowing that the ‘wasted’ time is helping to fill their love tank, no matter how small, how menial, and trivial. It is providing them a strong foundation for their future.
A lot of times, I underestimate how much my kids can learn. For the past two months, we recited and prayed Psalm 91 over Sarah-Faith before we put her to sleep. Psalm 91 is a long Psalm with sixteen verses. To our surprise, Sarah-Faith can recite the last word of every verse!
I have no idea a two-and-a-half-year-old remember words like salvation and rampart when they have little meaning to them. I am learning we are investing in Sarah-Faith’s life when we spend time with her — hour by hour, day by day. I am reminding myself that I need to be intentional and not just merely pass the time.
I wish I can tell you all of a sudden, I transform into this super dad and love every minute to spend time with my kids. There are still good days, and there are bad days. There are times when I tempted to glue to my phone when I should be spending time with my children. There are times at the end of the day, I admitted to Wai Jia I feel like I wasted my time. It is during these times I am reminding myself; I am a farmer sowing seeds. One day, I will reap a harvest. That day may not come until five, ten, or even fifteen years. That’s ok. I am patient. I am not in a rush. I can wait.
A lesson I learned from triathlon is that it takes a long time to be good. For anything worthy to invest in, it takes a long time. In the case of raising children, it takes a lifetime.
If I am going to reap a harvest, it is might as well be a fruitful one filled with love, peace, and joy.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” – Galatians 6:7-8 NKJV