What I Didn’t Include on My To-Do List
What I Didn’t Include on My To-Do List
Written By Jonathan Lewis   |   03.20.21

I had plans for today that didn’t include most of what I’ve done so far.

With a clear Saturday in front of me, I was planning to take care of some things around the house, get out for a walk for the first time in weeks, and write my monthly article for IFI. (If you’re reading this, it means that I did ultimately accomplish at least one thing on my to-do list!)

My wife also had some things she needed to get done, beginning with running a few errands and giving three of our kids some overdue haircuts.

Having a two month old in the house, however, means that oftentimes both parents can’t be occupied at the same time. Such was the case today.

My wife left the house in the morning to do her errands. While she was gone, I thought I might be able to get started on some of my tasks if Myles, the two-month-old, would be content sitting in his bouncy seat.

No such luck.

He’s almost unfailingly content while being held, but it can be a tossup when it comes to the bouncy seat.

By the time my wife arrived home with her errands done, I’d accomplished about three minutes worth of work and the rest of the time was spent holding the baby.

My wife got started on the haircuts.

I got started making lunch (and probably held Myles more, but it’s all beginning to blur together in my mind!).

Then, one of our other kids decided to turn something that should have been simple into a struggle, necessitating an intervention on my part and a follow-up conversation about it later after lunch.

Also after lunch came the third haircut (bonus points to you if you correctly guessed that I held Myles during it).

Finally, around two o’clock, I made it upstairs to my office to begin writing.

And so here it is, the middle of a Saturday afternoon, and my to-do list has barely been touched.

I’ve been a dad instead.

There’s no doubt that parenting can be one of the most consuming tasks on earth. I would also add that it’s one of the most important.

Remember, God told the Israelites to teach their children diligently in Deuteronomy 6. If you look at the specifics, most of us probably don’t really reach that level of diligence in everyday life. I know I don’t.

That means there’s plenty of room for me to grow.

As a side note, it’s not just the diligence department where I need to grow. It’s also the wisdom, patience, gentleness, consistency, and intentionality departments. There are probably others, but those are some I think of right now.

Anyway, back to my to-do list. I didn’t write down “Hold Myles,” or “Be a good dad,” but maybe I should have. Because when dad duty calls and I have to put aside my other tasks in order to fulfill my fatherly role, it can be easy to feel like I’m not getting anything done. My “real work” is put on hold while I deal with the kids.

But is that the perspective I ought to have? Does that reflect godly, eternal priorities?

Not really.

I’m not saying that we never have other important tasks to accomplish besides parenting. Clearly we do, and we have to figure out how to be good dads and moms while also accomplishing a variety of tasks in our other roles.

But our mindset is important. If I’m viewing taking care of my children as an interruption to my “real” work for the day, something is almost certainly wrong with my thinking.

Most of us wouldn’t hesitate to rate our role as a dad or mom as one of our most important callings in life. But we sometimes lose sight of that in the nitty-gritty moments of every day.

So just take this as a friendly, in-the-trenches reminder from one parent to another. Your kids (and grandkids) are important. And if you arrive at the end of the day with a to-do list full of things you didn’t accomplish but you did take time to be a good dad or mom, don’t view it as a waste. I don’t think God does. Why should we?

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Jonathan Lewis
Jonathan Lewis is husband to Linnea and Dad to Patrick, Timothy, Katherine, Benjamin, and Myles. He is a self-employed graphic designer from central Illinois and enjoys drinking coffee, playing chess, spending time with his family, and date nights with his wife....
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