This is an updated repost from my blog ‘A View From the Cottage’ first published in June 2022.
I am astounded by how time flies. When I started the blog ‘A View From The Cottage’, my online life revolved around my podcast, Just A Catholic Dad, a podcast about ‘faith, family, and fatherhood’. It ran for 194 episodes, was perched on the edge of its 150th and I still see it as one of my greatest achievements – whether others see it the same way is another question entirely! Now, I find that not only my time, but my motivation for doing the podcast has diminished significantly and I struggle to sit in my once pristine, but now fairly rickety chair office chair and turn the recorder on.
Even before the pandemic, my desire to do the podcast was diminishing. Why? Like most things in life, it is, I suspect, a combination of many small life diversions which have added up to a need to take a different road. There’s the issue of time; a one-hour podcast takes the best part of a day to record, edit, master, produce and publish. I can’t do it on a working day, so I need to commit one of my few and precious days off to it. Then there are the other conflicting demands of family life, dogs to walk, an old, creaky, and needy house to look after, a wife and daughter who seem to be becoming more and more subordinate to my digital life, and the reality that solo podcasting is a lonely pursuit. Then there was the realization that whilst I loved telling the world about the adventures of my beautiful little poppet, I wasn’t sure that it was fair to be doing that as she reached her teens. I felt like I was invading her privacy. And there’s work… I have a demanding job, demanding in terms of the time I spend at it and driving to and from it, demanding in that it involves constant unsocial hours, and just demanding and stressful in its very nature and I find as I get older that I am just plain tired. So, the thought of committing any of my remaining brainpower to create a podcast is just dispiriting.
On the other hand, there are still two drivers to keep going. The first is that I do this podcast for my daughter. It didn’t start that way, mind you, I started doing it because as a tech geek, I was caught up with the idea of all this new hardware and software and it seemed like fun. Certainly, when I received my first piece of feedback, I was elated. This was a great hobby for a frustrated radio DJ! But it soon became more than that. It became my gift to her. My way of letting her know forever how much I love her and how much she means to me. It was my gift. My legacy to her is that when she eventually becomes old and grey and can listen to her long-gone dad wittering on about how she saved me from despair.
It also became self-therapy. A way to navigate my increasingly awkward path between a need to follow my faith and take my daughter with me on the journey of a lifetime and my lovely wife who, raised with no formal faith, found the whole thing annoying at best. I was doing quite well. I thought. The weekly battle (well, that was part of the problem – as a shift worker, I couldn’t ever get Caitie to the habit-forming ritual of weekly Mass) was, on the whole, going my way. I got Caitie to Confirmation… and then came Covid. That infernal virus irrevocably broke the habit of weekly Mass and the battle was lost. Even I began to see that I was faced with a choice – continue ahead alone on my faith journey and lose even more of the limited time I have with my family and become even more of a visitor in my own home or spend that time with my wife and daughter before it was too late. I chose the latter.
I haven’t lost my faith. I never did and I never will. I pray often and know that one day I’ll return to the Mass which I love so dearly but right here, right now, time is flying and I need to spend every possible moment with my family before my daughter flies off into her own great adventure and I look back and realize that it was always the two of them with me looking in from the outside. Present but rarely there. A spectator on my own family’s life.
Time is a sneak thief who, given the chance, will pilfer your hours, steal your days and embezzle your years. It is unforgiving and unrelenting. Yet Time’s ultimate taunt isn’t that it quietly stole your life, it’s that it was you who wasted it away. Tomorrow is a world of possibilities and if you think it’s too late at 40, try being 50, if 50, see as 60 approaches at terrifying speed how young you were at 40. Time to move on. Time to look back at the wonderful joys of the past and look forward to the adventures of the future.