3 hours from now Megan and I are leaving for the airport. We’ll fly to Chicago today where we’ll spend a few days together exploring the city before doing some work Monday through Wednesday.
In so many ways the McLane’s are Chicagoans. We both moved to the city in 1994 for college. We met there in 1995. And the first 5 years of our marriage was living in Chicago and later in Forest Park, a nearby suburb. And, of course, Megan was born at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago.
To say that I’m excited to spend a few days with her in Chicago is like saying I kinda like Notre Dame Football. There just aren’t the right words to express how much I’ve been looking forward to this.
For me the temptation is to live in the past. Every place we’ll go is a place I’ve been before, a place of memories, and a place with a story. Even if it’s a new place I haven’t been before I’ll remember what it was before that new place was there.
But this is about new experiences for Megan. It’s about her falling in love with the Third Coast. About her discovering stuff. About her feeling the pulse and pace of a place that’s a character of it’s own in the novel of her life. Sure, I hope she learns stuff. But I hope she also learns a little bit about herself on this trip.
And this is also about solo time with dad. About a year ago Kristen and I started talking about my travel schedule and what it meant for me to be gone so much. (On pace for 82 nights away from home in 2013. 22.4% of the year.) It’s hard on everyone. We love what we get to do but it comes with a cost that every McLane has to pay. This lead to a simple thought: Why don’t we let them reap some of the benefits? Why can’t we turn a trip dad has to go on into a trip one of the kids gets to go on? Instead of investing the hours of downtime I have on the road in friends, why not invest that same time in one of my kids? And why not let them peak into dad’s life to get a glimpse, and hopefully really appreciate, what dad is doing away from home all those days each year.
With that, each McLane kids gets to go on one overnight work trip per year with dad. Paul went to Boston in February. And Megan is going to Chicago. And next February, Jackson is going to Grand Rapids. (And Detroit)
A Learning For Everyone
Here’s what I’ve learned: Be the parent that you are. Work with how God has made you. And pour into your kids lives however makes the most sense and feels natural to you.
Stop reading books. Stop trying to shape yourself into an archetype created by the media or a pastor or someone you admire. Stop focusing on trying to fix the parent you aren’t and start focusing on the parent who you already are.
I can tell you 25 flavors of the dad I’m not. I can tell you 25 things about me as a parent which I hate.
But one thing that is working for me— which I’ll keep doing– is creating experiences with my kids that are fun, positive, memorable, and reflect our values for who we are and point them towards the type of adult we hope they’ll become.