Staring at the picture on my computer screen, it donned on me the power of perspective while interpreting its contents.

The image was of several children swimming and playing in the water.

Perspective: 40 years ago

They sure look like they’re having fun. I wish it was summertime and I was out there with them. The last thing I’m going to do is put on a swimsuit when it’s 40 below zero outside. Maybe dad will take us swimming at the city pool if I ask. 

Perspective: 30 years ago

Those kids sure look like they’re having fun. I need to spend more time with my kids. It’s exhausting the amount of time that I’m splitting between school and trying to put food on the table. They do realize that I’m doing this all for them, right?

Perspective: 20 years ago

That’s it, she’s the caboose. The last of our children are here. Our children are now spanning the age of 10 years old down to a newborn. We could take them out to Warm Springs and go swimming. I can’t believe how fast they’re growing up. I wonder if they all have swimsuits that will fit them? I’ll have to talk to the wife and see if we can fit it into Saturday’s activities.

I need to spend more time with the kids, luckily college football season is over and I don’t have to feel the guilt of spending time watching the game versus playing with them. Is it okay to have “me” time?

Perspective: 10 years ago

Those kids sure look like they’re having fun. I can’t believe my kids used to look like that. I can’t imagine trying to get them all together to go swimming, with their work and school schedules. I wonder how long until the grandkids will start showing up.

Grandkids. I can’t believe I even just uttered that word. Did I spend enough time with my kids while I could?

No matter how good of a parent you are, and I’m not saying I am, there’s always the battle with parental guilt. It may be a little morbid but I remember the picture of the headstone that mentioned something about the guy wishing he had spent more time working while he was alive—a joke of course.

Deep down I want to ask my kids if they feel like they had a good childhood and if I spent enough time with them? Deep down I’m afraid of the answer. Luckily they have an amazing mother who made up for my shortfalls.

Perspective: Today

I wonder whose grandkids those are? I wonder if the parents/grandparents are watching the kids swim, making sure they’re safe?

I can’t believe I have 10 grandkids. Three of them can swim, I wonder if my kids will put the grandkids in swimming lessons this next summer? I sure hope so, that would take the stress off me thinking about them swimming.

I hope their parents are spending enough time with them. Do they know you can’t replace those years? Am I spending enough time with my grandkids now or am I chasing my own ambitions, leaving them to suffer the consequences? Am I reliving my parenting years, only at a different level and with a new generation?

Perspective: Reflection

Perspective is everything. It’s difficult not being overly critical of myself in the time I’ve spent with my kids and am spending with my grandkids. I don’t think that I’m beating myself up so much as I’m making sure that I step back and question how I’m doing with the goal of doing better.

I hope my perspective improves when I look back again with another 10 years under my belt.

What about you? How’s your perspective? 

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