"Holden, Cashmen, and Ava" —photo by Reggie Joiner

I went to bed early Sunday night to get ready for the next Panama City Beach BigStuf Camp—1500 teenagers start arriving today for the next camp—so I watched part of a movie I had seen a few years ago called, “Marley and Me.” On the surface it’s about a dog called Marley, but the real story is about trying to raise a family and stay married. In the movie, John and Jennifer Grogan worked for a newspaper company and moved to Florida to start a family. I re-watched the scene last night where they get in an intense fight and Jenny demands that John get rid of the dog. After John has delivered Marley to a friend to keep for a few days, he comes home to Jennifer. Here’s an excerpt of the scene:

Jenny: No one tells you how hard this is all gonna be.

John: Which part?

Jenny: All of it. Marriage, being a parent. It’s the hardest job in the world and nobody prepares you for that. Nobody tells you how much you have to give up.

John: I feel like they do tell you, but you don’t listen…or you think, ‘Ah, they’re just miserable.’

Jenny: I’ve given up so much of what made me who I am. But I can’t say that because…I’m a very bad person if I say that. But I feel it. I really do. I feel it sometimes. I just- I just want you to know that.

John: I do know that. And you can say it. I say it.

Jenny: But I did make a choice. I made a choice, and even if it’s harder than I thought…I don’t regret it.

John: Are you sure?

Jenny: I am very sure. ‘Cause it kinda has like a…’there’s no place like home’ feeling to it. I just think these things are gonna happen and we’re gonna get through them. And we’ll just do it together.

John: Together.

Jenny: Getting rid of Marley is not gonna fix anything.

John: No?

Jenny: And getting rid of you isn’t gonna fix anything either. Can I ask you a favor?

John: Yes.

Jenny: No more kids for a while.

As a Dad I have a confession to make: It is hard being a parent. There have actually been moments I wondered if it was really worth it. But looking back, I know it was. I believe I could have worked a little harder at it. I know now there are a host of things I would do differently. And these days I find myself really missing my kids a lot. It’s not because they are not in my life. They are around all the time, and I am grateful. They are just not in my life as kids, anymore. One of the most sobering truths to process as a Dad at my age is that my kids will never be kids again. I wish someone had explained that clearer when I was younger. I just didn’t know that it would go by so fast. I just wish it had really sunk in deeper, when they were still kids.

Chrystina Fincher, a good friend of mine just sent me her new music video. This is one of the songs on her newest release “Coast to Coast with a Sunburned Heart” — you can find it on iTunes. I know Jayce, Chrystina, Holden, Cashmen, Ava personally. I guess that’s why her video was a little emotional for me. I hope it will remind you why it’s worth it to be a family, and why we should all spend time with our kids, while they are still kids.