I’m so pleased today to introduce a fellow stay home dad and his musings on Children’s Day 2021 (celebrated today in my country).
This is also my blog’s very first guest post on parenting! Woo-hoo!! (For more in my blog on parenting, click here)
Cliff Tam’s a friend I got to know in June this year. Like me, Cliff’s been staying home full time since 2019 to look after his two kids (elder Sarah-Faith and sibling Esther-Praise). On the side, Cliff writes and podcasts while studying for his Masters. (For more info, do check out his bio at the end of this post)
Over to you Cliff!
“Long days. Short years!”
“The days are long, but the years are short.”
When our firstborn came into our lives, this was the most common phrase my wife and I heard from other parents.
I don’t know about you, but I have very little idea what parenting would be like when first I tied the knot. In so many ways, I was clueless (I think I still am!).
But not in a million years would I imagine that one day, I will be a stay-at-home dad watching over two little princesses, a two-and-a-half-year-old, and a four-and-a-half-year-old.
I remember those days when my firstborn, at 11 months old, had this insatiable thirst to pull every book off the shelf in the public library! As she buttscooted from one shelf to another to practise her newly-learned skill, I would hastily follow after her, putting the books back as quickly as she pulled them off.
The days were certainly long but boy, the minutes felt even longer! I would count down by the minutes and, at times, by the seconds.
Now that I have been a father for four and a half years, I am learning to see parenting from a different perspective.
A different perspective of the next stage of life
I think we often look at the next life stage while living the current one.
That’s certainly true for me
When I was single, all I could envision was finding a relationship with that someone special.
After that is to get married; and after tying the knot, kids. So on and so forth.
Fast forward to 2020, when I found myself running a series of webinars on relationships as part of a Masters programme I was doing.
At first, I thought I would focus on dating and finding the right partner. What I ended up doing though was talking about looking at life from 30,000 feet high!
I went from being single to dating, to marriage, to parenting. I was emphasising that every stage is built upon the one before. And if that’s the case, shouldn’t we also consider looking beyond the next stage and imagine how our current actions impact future stages of life?
Lately, I wonder, what if I look at parenting the same way? With a longer view?
And I concluded: that’s hard!
Having kids is filled with endless to-dos and priorities, from buying enough food to fill their tummies, getting the right medicines, chores to do, and, of course, their education.
I have never been so stretched in multi-tasking in my entire life!
My life day-to-day
I am learning that my day-to-day, those mundane tasks of watching the kids, feeding them, changing their nappies, cleaning up, are not just to survive the day.
Instead, it is an investment, day by day, drop by drop, into their lives such that they will grow up one day. Not only will they grow up, one day they will have children of their own, and those children will have children of their own.
These days, I am still tackling day by day and sometimes hour by hour. And yes, some days, some hours are really, really long, especially when my children are going through the ‘terrific’ twos. Or when my kids spontaneously get up before 6 am to play.
From “go long” to “going long”
When I first became a stay-at-home father, I complained to my wife I was wasting my time. I am doing nothing productive. I had no purpose.
Now, I realize my purpose only when I hang on to this dual view of short and long term. I am a farmer, and I am sowing into my future generations. I can’t outsource this because this is my role as a father and as a parent.
Those 6 am days are hard, and they are still hard. And that’s ok. Those days will pass away.
What is important is how I interact with my children to shape their hearts and generations to come. And that will never be a waste.
As someone who once loved doing endurance events like Ironman or marathon, I thought I knew what it meant to “go long”.
Now, as a parent, I am beginning to understand the idea of “going long”.
And for that, I have my girls to thank.
Happy Children’s Day my darlings!
Cliff Tam is currently a stay-at-home dad watching over his two lovely daughters while working on an online Masters programme.
He had a liver transplant at ten because of cancer and did an Ironman triathlon at 27.
Now 41, his desire is one day to work on humanitarian projects with his family in South East Asia.
For more about Cliff, please visit clifftam.com.