What Two Daughters Taught Me When I Lost A Summer

Approaching the official end of summer, I can’t say I’m sad to see the season go.

While my kids had good times this summer, I worked way more than I expected. Important and exhilarating but not relaxing.

Now this is a bit of a cry me a river moment. I chose to start The Company of Dads, where we’re doing a lot of great things that I’m proud of but that require a lot of, well, time. I’m fortunate to be able to do this.

One thing that’s fallen by the wayside is self care and in my case that takes the form of playing golf with friends. This is something that I’ve done every summer for the past 40 years, starting when my grandfather started taking me out to play with him. As I got older and a bit better, I’ve had lots of opportunities to play courses that I only dreamed of as a bag room attendant at a small 9-hole course in western Massachusetts.

This summer not so much.

Instead, I had something much different – and just as good. This was the summer that my middle daughter got interested in playing golf with me.

When she showed interest, her younger sister – who’s been coming out with me for 5 or her 6 years – wanted to play with me even more. (The upside of sibling competitiveness and I was the beneficiary!)

Two joyful things happened on a beach vacation last week. One, my youngest took it upon herself to be my coach. At one point, she sat on the edge of a sand trap and told me, “Every time you hit a good one, I’m giving you another one to hit.” I protested, saying it’s normally the other way around but she wouldn’t hear any of it. And in a fun – but tiring twist – I kept hitting good shot after good shot and she kept feeding me balls.

The second thing is my middle daughter started asking me to go out and play when her younger sister napped. So we did, for however many holes she wanted.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get better it did. One evening I went to unwind by hitting a bucket of balls and my middle daughter came along, with one club and her book. She planned to read but ended up hitting as many balls as I did, increasingly excited as each one took flight.

I’ve always dreamt of my girls coming out and playing with me. But I never wanted to force my hobby on them. (Their older sister remains resolute in her determination not to play golf, save for on Father’s Day!)

It’s been the greatest gift in an otherwise stressful and busy summer. And its reinforced something I preach to companies: pivoting is the way forward in the new world of work – and fun.