Each Father’s Day has a very familiar rhythm. This weekend is typically the same as my college friends’ reunion weekend. I will often leave the revelry early to make it home in time to coach my daughters’ soccer games on Sunday. 

Given this schedule, it is often difficult or impossible to really plan anything “special” for Father’s Day. 

Father’s Day usually marks the end of the spring soccer season. Magically, up to 20 hours of time every week –  previously allocated to  coaching three soccer practices and one game for each of my three kids – is freed up.

On one level, this is incredibly liberating. A reprieve from most weekend nights spent on a soccer pitch and the weekends running around to games that can sometimes be frustrating. This free time represents the potential to do more for myself, with my wife or friends. Visions of golf games, movies and drinks dance in my head.

Yet at the same time, I am sadly losing guaranteed time each week to simply be with my daughters. Time spent in cars hearing more about their life or watching them play a sport with increasing levels of skill and grace or smiling as they just goof around with their teammates. 

They are at the age or approaching it, when time spent with their parents is more of a chore or reluctant choice than an explicit desire. In recognition of this, I not so slyly steal time with them. Offering to drive or pick them up from a friend’s house. Going into their rooms, sitting on the floor or on their beds. Pulling up a chair next to them while they do homework at the kitchen table. Sidling up next to them on the couch watching a little TV. Sometimes asking a few questions often met with increasingly short answers, occasionally playing the role of the court jester dad, most often just quietly hanging.

My presence in their life will likely continue to wane as they grow older. Not by my choosing. Stealing time will get more and more difficult. Those twenty hours on the soccer field will become more and more precious. 

So a Father’s Day with nothing special planned? Being with them at all – that’s plenty special for me. 

For those Dads out there who may have experienced the loss of their Father this year, here is a piece I wrote for Esquire that may be helpful in dealing with the conflicting feelings of being a dad without a dad on Father’s Day.

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