Tony was “Mr. Social Butterfly.”
He was completely comfortable with people in just about any social setting. Yet, while likable to most, deep relationships were a problem. Those closest to him usually felt ignored. He had a wonderful wife and an adorable fourteen year old daughter. His wife, Gail, and daughter, Alyssa, loved him and wanted more of him.
But he was always busy trying to make a name for himself. Subsequently, he missed most of Alyssa’s concerts and gymnastics meets. He’d plan to be there, but something always came up. It was the same with his wife. They’d schedule date nights or weekend getaways but … something always came up. She longed for more of him. As time passed, she found the anger and resentment hard to push away.
Years later, Gail and Alyssa started attending a new church in town. In it, both found a sense of fulfillment and purpose. Even Tony noticed that since they began attending, they complained less about never getting enough of his time.
One day, he got a call about an impromptu dinner with a client. Excited, he turned to invite a few of his co-workers. Their responses surprised him.
One said, “Sorry Tony, I’m heading home to be with my family tonight.”
Another replied, “Not tonight pal. Tonight my son has a baseball game. I really want to be there.”
Tony was baffled. They’d always gone with him on these. It would expand their careers, make them better known in their field. But they were passing it all up for … family time? He thought, “Where would that get them?” He called the client back and canceled.
Driving home, he began to think, “maybe I have neglected my family too much.” He stopped and got his wife flowers and his daughter her favorite chocolate bar. He decided, “perhaps I’ll try this ‘family thing.’”
When he got home, no one was there. Gail was at bible study and Alyssa was at a friend’s house. An hour later, she arrived home first.
“Hey Sweetheart! Where ya been?”
“Wanna watch a movie or something? I got you your favorite candy bar.”
She just looked at him. She could sense he was trying to spend time with her but couldn’t figure out why.
“Is something wrong Daddy?”
“Nothing. Just trying to spend some time with my little princess.”
Alyssa stood motionless. Just something about the phrase, the ease with which he said it, hit her wrong. Years of resentment erupted from within. “NOW you want to spend time with me? All the missed school events, my gymnastics meets, so many different things you weren’t there for and NOW you want to watch a movie?”
Tony was stunned. She finished with “I know your name but I don’t know YOU at all.” She then stormed off to her room in tears. Moments later, Gail walked in.
“Hey Sweetheart!” Tony slid across the wood floor and, with a ‘ta da’ flare, handing her a dozen white roses.
Gail was bewildered. “They’re beautiful. But why?”
“Just because I love you.”
Gail stood motionless. “What’s going on? Did something happen at work?”
“Everything’s fine. I just wanted to give my precious lady something special and have some ‘us’ time. Wanna watch a movie?”
Gail exploded. “SERIOUS? All these years of ditching me for this meeting, or that dinner, and NOW you wanna watch a movie? I’ve longed to spend time with you but was never important enough. You were always too busy trying to make sure someone else knew who YOU were. Well, I don’t know YOU at all.” Throwing the flowers in his face, she stormed to their bedroom in tears.
Now, Tony stood motionless. He knew they were right. Years of wrong priorities engulfed him like a thick, dark mass. He realized he didn’t deserve such a wonderful family but hoped that after some time, they’d give him another chance.
Upstairs, Alyssa entered Gail’s bedroom wiping tears away. “I heard what you said to Daddy. Before you got home, I basically said the same things.”
“I shouldn’t have spoken to your father that way. He’s not perfect but he tries and I know he loves us.”
“I felt awful too.”
“Listen, how about we go downstairs, make some popcorn, and watch that movie and also … have a long talk? If you’re Dad’s ready to join his family, we’ll tell him we’re ready too.”
Alyssa smiled. “I like that idea Mommy.”
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