I had an epiphany this past weekend when my family was visiting from out of the country. I took a couple days off from work and rented a Dodge Grand Caravan to fit all of us in one car and drive around the city.
On Friday, I’ve decided to give missRandom (the wife) a break and fly solo with Junior (the son). Along with my sister and nephew, we went to the Museum of Flight and spend the afternoon looking at airplanes, Apollo artifacts, the former Air Force One, and more geeky NASA stuff.
That morning, I packed my son’s snacks, diaper bag, stroller, change of clothes, and many more (you name it, I had them prepared). Usually, I helped missRandom preparing for trips, I hadn’t really gone solo for a full day.
Off we went. We had a blast! Even though my son is only 6mo old, his eyes lit up seeing colorful airplanes. His tiny finger pointed left and right, as if he was asking to be taken closer to get a better look at things.
I fed him multiple times, changed his diaper, and soothed him to naps. I was so proud that I could do all of these without missRandom’s help. Then it hit me. I drove a minivan on a Monday afternoon, taking my son and family to a museum. I was officially a soccer dad of the day!
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Solidify your Why
I’ve never felt as fulfilled as that day. It’s as if what I do for living, how much I make, my work identity don’t matter anymore. There is more to life than just generating income, chasing your next promotion, and make your next investment.
This kind of experience solidifies my why on early retirement. If I don’t have to work tomorrow, chances are, I will take my wife and son to the beach just to hang out, the three of us. Or, taking a walk in the park. When my son is older, I’ll be sure to teach him to paddle board and ski. Ski? Daddy, you’re sooo old! I’m gonna Snowboard (or whatever latest and greatest on his generation). That is ok though, the fact that he wants to go with me matters more. Oh wait, am I day dreaming to far? 🙂
Try something different
Sometimes in life, when things become mundane, you go to work, you come home, you go to work, you come home…. we forget to live. It is good to take a mental break and do something totally different than what you do for living.
For example, believe it or not, Aloha Jim is an amateur wedding musician. The pay is obviously not great, but hey, you got free meals and treats! It’s always rewarding to see two people who loved each other making commitment and an honor to play the music during the ceremony. But I got to tell you, there’s nothing more nerve racking than playing piano live when the bride do the walk, my finger gets sweaty hammering the keys. Don’t press the wrong key! Don’t forget the chords!
Doing something different gives us perspectives on the kind of stuff that you can do when you have the freedom of time. I, for sure, don’t want to do coding for the rest of my life. I want to do more musical gig. I want to write and produce music for cinema, that’s my hidden desire!
Coming back to the title of the article. Why do I want to be a soccer dad? And why do I want to accomplish it in 7 years or less? My son is 6 months old now. In 7 years, I can only imagine the kind of activities we can do together if I no longer have to go to work. Did you know that you only have 18 summers to spend with your children? I really don’t want to miss out.
I want to be there on his soccer practice, piano recital, or heck chess club, if that’s what he aspires to do! We can go on a long travel as a family. Rather than teach him history from the book, wouldn’t be cool to take him to the exact location of the history to learn? “Hey son, what is the biggest Buddhist temple in the world?”. “It’s Candi Borobudur, dad. We were there on the way to Bali”
So there you have it. If anyone asks Aloha Jim in any context (work included), “Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?” The answer is not “I want to be the director of engineering in this company”. It is, “I want to be a soccer dad within 7 years”