05/26/2009 at 03:00 PM EDT
For Tom Brady it seems that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
The football star shares custody of his 1½-year-old son John Edward Thomas with ex, Bridget Moynahan – but he says that arrangement makes the time with his boy even more important.
"I don't see him every day, and we play when I change his diaper: lifting his leg up, playing with his toes, biting his feet," the New England Patriots quarterback tells Sports Illustrated
in its June 1, issue on newsstands Wednesday. "There's a different appreciation. If you had him every day, you'd go, 'Let's just get this done.' But when you get him, say, one week a month, you're like, 'This is so cool!' "
Brady, who married Gisele Bündchen
in February, says he also missed football when he was out recovering from a knee injury.
"When I was playing every week, I bitched about the little things," says Brady "Like, God, we've got to go outside today? It's raining! … Or, why do we have a meeting at 7:30 to talk about everything we've already talked about? Geez! Then when you're not playing, you realize that you would [gladly] do any of that."
As for his future, Brady says his goals are simple: "I want to play this game I love, be with my wife and son and enjoy life."