For my entire life, I've been a driven person, always striving. I was the first in my family to attend college, and then I went to law school. I worked for the government, then joined NBC and lived in Manhattan, going to concerts, restaurants and cocktail parties. It was an exciting and wonderful life, but my career was central to it, and I was often in a hurry.
That all changed on August 22, 1985, at 7:11 p.m.
My wife, Maureen, had been in labor all day with our first and only child. When the nurse put Luke in my arms, I finally understood unconditional love. I realized exactly why my father had worked two full-time jobs for 30 years; why my mother had spent her days sitting next to me when I was sick as a boy, putting her hand on my forehead to check my fever again and again. My love for Luke was as deep as theirs for me—so natural, complete, instinctive.
At that moment, all my priorities shifted. My career became secondary to the blessing of being a parent. I wanted to stay at home and feed our baby; I wanted to watch him learn to crawl and say his first words. I wanted to coach his baseball and soccer games. I know it seems impossible, but I feel I can remember every day of his life.
When I brought Luke to begin his freshman year in college in September, I knew that a major chapter in his life and mine was over. From that day forward, he'd never again be totally dependent on me. I gave him simple advice: "Study hard, laugh often and keep your honor." I pray that I've taught him to make good decisions and given him strong moral grounding to do the right thing. Because, ever since August 22, 1985, at 7:11 p.m., I've known that when my life is over, there's nothing more I'll be judged on than what kind of father I was.
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, December 12, 2013