So, my oldest child is now at an age where she is starting to vocalize her own opinion, and this is a new experience for me. My wife Kirsten and I have two daughters. Eden is three years old and Emery recently turned two in July. It’s common now to hear our children mimicking the words and expressions they’ve heard us say, a constant reminder that they’re watching us.
I often consider how the experience of being a professional athlete will impact my children as they continue to grow. Because of their age, they will reflect on my most recent actions and not remember me prominently being in the NFL. Still, it granted our children many of the things they have now, including access to quality schools as well as the ability to live in an affluent community. My wife, who also worked, desired to spend more time raising our little ones, a decision we were financially able to make.
And as a result of all that, I worry that our daughters may become unappreciative of what they have because they weren’t there to witness what it took to reap those benefits.
Some of my earliest memories growing up were of my parents working. My mother was a registered nurse doing private duty, which would require her to care for patients outside the hospital. During the summer, when my brother Edwin and I weren’t at school, she would return home in the morning from her long shift, trying to stay awake for us, but sleep would ultimately win out.
For a time, my father worked two jobs. The hours he worked throughout the week did not preclude him from coming into the office on Saturdays with kids in tow in order to finish his work obligations and lovingly allowing his wife a break from the two of us.
Even as time passed, I continued to bear witness to my parents’ resilience and work ethic. During my time away at college, my father was promoted at his company. Now in charge of a larger region, my parents had to move from Long Island to Pennsylvania. My mother, who decided to leave the hospital environment for a less arduous schedule, now an educator, was faced with the challenge of leaving her students in the middle of the school year.
But my mother refused to choose. In fact she continued teaching for the remainder of that year and still moved to Pennsylvania with my father. She commuted some 60 miles daily between Freeport, NY, where she taught, and Lansdale, PA, where my parents now live.
That sacrifice far exceeded a financial commitment. It was her dedication to her work, not wanting to disrupt the nurturing environment that her students had grown accustomed to.
When I look at my parents, I draw a lot of inspiration from them. Though they worked long hours, I’ve always felt their love for us and realized as I got older the things which I took for granted. Watching how my parents lived their lives, is one of the biggest gifts I’ve been given, one I hope I can also pass down to my own children as they look to us, their parents, for guidance into a world they’ve only begun to know.