Saying Goodbye, Every day. A Letter to My Children
February 8, 2017

“The household is the association established by nature for the supply of men’s everyday wants…”
Aristotle, Politics

According to Aristotle, a household is that small community of people with whom, by nature’s design, we live every day. It is a community united by the simple and often mundane activities of daily life. But what a privilege and a joy, to get to live with these few people day in and day out: a privilege perhaps not rightly appreciated. It gives me occasion to reflect on life in my own home, and to consider it from a new angle. And so I write…

An Open Letter to My Children

For years now I have had to say good-bye to you most days of the week. I am often gone for most of the waking hours in your day.

The day tends to fly by for me—I’m usually pretty busy. I wonder sometimes how it is for you, and for Mama. There are so many things you do that I don’t see, and that I don’t hear much about. There are likewise so many things that I do, that you don’t see or hear about.

I wish our lives overlapped even more than they do.

Do you remember how sometimes you would say when I was leaving in the morning: “I’ll give you a hundred thousand kisses when you get home?” I think the highest we ever reached one evening was to twenty-three. Some of you would run out to meet me; others always preferred to hide and for me to come find you. One of you still loves hiding, and I never tire of looking for you, and finding you in your favorite corner under the chair.

Sometimes I say good-bye for several days when I go on a trip. When you were younger you hadn’t heard of Dallas or Chicago; you wondered how far it was. I told you an airplane could get me there and back very quickly. It would only be one night, or two or three, and I’d be back. I’d promise to come kiss you even if it was late: that way it would be one fewer days until my return. But you would still cry; and usually so would I.

You are all growing up, and some of you are now really adults.

Sometimes it has been my fault that we haven’t had more time together; sometimes I haven’t realized the treasure we have had. I think as long as we live in this world I’ll wish our lives overlapped more than they do.

How can I begin to count the blessing of having lived under the same roof with you for as long as we have? I do not know for sure how much longer we will have, and what the future holds for us. It will still have been too little time we have had together. Perhaps one day Mama or I, or both of us will have occasion to live in a household of you and your spouse and children.

But two things I know: under whatever roof your Mama and I ever live, part of our being your parents is that our home will always be your home, even if and when you begin to have your own.

And further, no one can ever take from us—and who else could really understand?—the time we have had together. It is a promise of something more, of a time when there will be no goodbyes. I know it is.

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher. The Politics is his major political work, in which he includes a consideration of the household.

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  1. I’m glad I had a box of tissues nearby! I just forwarded the post to all of my children. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you, Dr.Cuddeback! This was a beautiful and timely reminder for me to appreciate my last few months at home before I leave for college. Very inspiring.

  3. So beautiful! Thank you John

  4. Well, this made me weep. Beautiful.

  5. Beautiful and emoting tears. Perhaps it will add to your joy and ease the sorrow of your separations in knowing that you are impacting the lives of many who are learning for the first time the value of these great philosophers. Your own personal insights shared are a breath of fresh air. Three of our children are blessed to have had you as their professor at Christendom College. I hope the lower half of our family can have the same blessing. May God bless you in your work+
    – Jodi Wells, Louisville, KY

  6. A beautiful tear-jerker if ever there was one! And oh, so true! We just don’t appreciate whatever present time we have. Thank you

  7. Thank you all very much for your kind words and encouragement, which I really appreciate.

  8. What a beautiful post.