Every Tuesday night I find myself sitting on the sofa with my two girls. Aspen, my toddler is usually on my lap, wrapped in a blanket, her head resting on a pillow that is resting on my chest. Snuggled next to me is my 7-year-old, Norah. Both kids are usually in their pajamas, their hair wet from having just taken a bath.
My Little Pony is usually on the TV. This is Norah’s show. I’ll be honest, I’m not all that interested in My Little Pony, but that doesn’t mean I can’t name all of them — I can — from Twilight Sparkle to Pinkie Pie. Don’t judge.
I suppose a lot of parents share this with me — more or less, you watch what they watch. Obviously, though, I’m not really in it for the entertainment. I’m on the sofa for the snuggles. This is some of the best quality time that I get with my kids.
Tuesday nights on the sofa with my girls has become a weekly ritual. Mel, my wife, takes Tristan, our oldest, to Cub Scouts at the church, while I stay home and have TV time with Norah and Aspen.
We only watch shows for an hour or so, but I’m going to be honest, it’s become a highlight of my week. There is something so warm and tender about having my young girls snuggled up against me, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
That sweet feeling, that warmth in my chest, is hard to explain, but I know all parents must feel the same way in moments like these.
I see a lot of pictures on Facebook of parents taking their children on extravagant daddy-daughter dates to nice restaurants or princess-themed locations that make normal parents like myself wonder if we are doing it all wrong.
I will be the first to tell you that it doesn’t have to always look like that. While there is nothing wrong with going all-out, sometimes spending good quality time with your kids means simply snuggling on the sofa and watching My Little Pony.
Last month, I took Norah out for ice cream, and she wouldn’t stop talking about it for almost a week. After my son’s soccer game last Saturday, we went to the corner store for a treat and a soda, and you’d think I’d just taken him to Disneyland.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t taken my children to cool places. We’ve gone to bounce houses, amusement parks, water parks, zoos, and a bazillion other places over the years that are a lot more extravagant than my sofa.
I suppose what I want to get across is that it doesn’t always have to look like a big to-do. It doesn’t always have to look like some Pinterest-worthy trip to some fantastical place.
I think this is the problem with social media and parenting. It has raised a lot of parents’ standards. It has made them feel like they always need to do something that’s Facebook worthy with their children, or it doesn’t count.
Honestly, I don’t think it matters what you do, as long as you spend time together.
Please keep in mind that this is coming from someone whose father abandoned him when he was nine.
I didn’t know my father all that well, and when we did spend time together it was far from extravagant. In fact, towards the end of his life (he died from drug addiction when I was 19) he really only reached out for rides and for bail money.
I would have loved to have just snuggled with my dad on the sofa and watched a movie. I would have loved for him to have gone to my sporting events and then taken me out for ice cream. I would have loved for him to have just be there for me.
Because I never experienced those things, I understand the value in spending time together doing small things with a dad.
So every Tuesday, towards the end of the TV time, once Aspen is asleep on my lap and Norah is trying to hassle me for one more episode of My Little Pony, I feel very content. I feel something very special, and I’m pretty sure my daughters feel it too.
Once I’ve got both girls in bed, and Norah and I have said our nightly prayer, she wraps her arms around me and says, “Are we going to have TV time again next week?”
“Yes,” I reply. “I’m planning on it.”
Norah always looks up at me with a gap-toothed grin, giggles a little, and says, “Good.”
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