Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

Yesterday I was hiking along a river with 12-year-old and 7-year-old daughters. We were about an hour from our home in rural Oregon, and someone told us there was a waterfall about half a mile away. It was probably some of the clearest water I've ever seen, almost bathwater clear, and it was a place we'd always talked about going to as a family, but never actually had the time. We were all in swimming suits and we jumped in pools along the way.

We chatted about who knows what, taking our time, just trying to get the most out of the summer. My wife and son were behind us, checking out a pool on the other side of the river that they thought looked interesting. We planned to meet up later at the van, drive back into town, and get some drive-thru.

Naturally, this outing doesn't sound like much, but we've been doing a lot of these little afternoon trips to different locations around Oregon this summer. When we haven't gone on family hikes, we've watched movies every night after dinner. We've shared almost every meal together, gone on walks as a family around our neighborhood, and rode bike rides across town. On the weekends, we almost always roast marshmallows in our backyard.

To contrast this with the summer of 2019—or as many summers as I can recall as a working father and husband—I've never had this kind of time to spend with my kids. Never. I work two jobs, one in education and another as a freelance writer. On a normal day, I'd get up around 5 AM to write, then drive 30 min to my university job, work until 6 PM or later, drive home, have dinner, get the kids to bed, and then maybe write some more before going to bed. My wife also works full-time in education, so most of our interactions have involved coordinating our lives so we can set sail in different directions, managing our work lives and our children's lives.

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