Can you guess who picked out her outfit? Be prepared for a rambling post that lacks sorely on the “funny”…after the jump…
I’ve been caught a bit by surprise with Father’s day. It was a bit like my birthdays have come to be in that it snuck up on me without much mental fanfare. You know, the kind of anticipatory fireworks that go through your head when the Super Bowl is coming up or how you used to feel before your birthday back when the years were counted with single digits. I knew Father’s day was coming, but I didn’t really think too much about it. But that has changed as I have started to consider what it means to truly be able to be celebrated on Father’s day and that is a bit awkward for me because I’m not used to being celebrated. It’s not that I don’t get love from othera or that I’m not appreciated…It’s just that I’m not used to a holiday being about me. That has changed, but what else has changed?
Well for one, I have a person…so tiny…that depends on me. Sure, she depends on her mother in most ways and those ways will only increase as Layla grows, but Layla depends on me as well. She depends on me in different ways. I cannot breastfeed Layla (much to her benefit), but Cheryl cannot be an example of what Layla should look for in her future husband (does any of that make sense?). I suppose, it boils down to this: Layla depends on her mother for some things and on me for others. Mother/daughter dependencies seem, to me, to be more evident while Father/Daughter dependencies are more nebulous and I think they are delayed…showing up later in Layla’s life. I pray for wisdom in discerning how Layla needs me. In what ways is she looking to me for guidance? For example, I could press her to be a baseball fan…maybe even a Cubs fan, but that’s probably not what she needs from me, so I pray for wisdom to know what she needs and how best to fulfill those needs, preparing her for life on her own and as her own person.
How have I changed now that there’s a section in Hallmark for me? Well, for starters, I am much more accountable now. Hopefully with that accountability comes responsibility. Sure, I’m accountable to Cheryl, but if I fail that, she can adjust and move on. One of these days she will realize that I am an unabashed “piler”. I pile things up rather than deal with them. When Cheryl realizes that, she will adjust and move on. Layla? Well, if I fail her in the areas that she needs me to be responsible, well, she will not learn that lesson and that may affect her life unless she learns it somewhere else. You see, it is my responsibility, as her father, to teach her that all guys are scuzzball knuckleheads. I need to do that early by showing her what a real man is and what to look for in her husband. That means, I need to step up my game, because I want her to learn that lesson early.
Can I do that? Can I be the man that Layla needs me to be? Heck yes! I have my father, my brother, and my grandfathers that have taught me many lessons about what it is to be a good, caring father. I also have my Heavenly Father that teaches me (if I will listen). I am prepared. Now, I can only hope to execute.
One thing, my father taught me, not with a speech or a spanking, but with his actions (the absolute best teaching tools) was to take interest in your child’s interests. I remember him blowing off his Saturday plans of fixing things around the farm, to take me 2 1/2 hours away to Charlotte to look at a couple of folding tables covered with baseball cards. Later in life, he took me to Salisbury to order my first “real” guitar…heck, he even got me a banjo! Whatever goofy notion got into my head, he helped me to try to achieve it and, no, that isn’t illustrated with him buying me instruments, so much as it was shown by him taking my dreams seriously…sometimes moreso than even I did. I hope I can do that.
So, what did I do on Father’s day? Well I didn’t pay enough attention to the sermon Sunday morning because I got distracted. I caught a few things mind you and I apologize to you Lord, but I was distracted. You see, my daughter started to get a little antsy sitting in her carseat, so I picked her up. I shuffled her around a little and eventually stood her on my legs with her back to me. I held her there, my hands under her arms, fingers spread across her ribcage and my thumbs against her backat the bottom of her shoulder blades. It was then that I noticed that my hands encompassed her. I felt her little ribcage swell and release with the life that I helped give her and I thought back to one of my early childhood memories of laying of my grandfather’s lap, my chest to his, sleepily feeling his chest rise and fall for the umpteenth time in his 60-plus year lifetime. I lay there and tried to time my breathing to his so we could move as one. You see, he taught me to enjoy baseball and the last thing I did with him was watch the Blue Jays beat the Yankees on the television in his hospital room. That’s why the picture above is a favorite of mine. I hope that Layla enjoys the game like I do. I look forward to teaching her to score a game, to watch the nuances of the game, to enjoy a restful day at the ballpark. This picture, though, also reminds me that there is a very good chance that my daughter will not like baseball or playing guitar or anything else that I like…and that is okay. In fact that’s wonderful, because she is her own person. This picture reminds me that no matter what outfits I get her or how I set her up and metaphorically “pose” her, she is her own person and I hope that I help to prepare her to make her own decisions in her life. With that in mind, I will be more than happy to skip the “Will Call” window at the Durham Bulls stadium to sit in an auditorium and watch my little girl dance or sing or whatever she chooses to do. I want her to dream more than I did. I want to do what I can to help her dreams decome reality and I want to prepare her for the dreams that do fall short.
What else has my first Father’s day taught me? Well, now I know a little bit more about what it means to love like God loves me. I love my Layla tremendously and that is but a tiny droplet in a bucket compared to how much God loves me. I pray that my droplet…in that huge bucket…gets larger over time.
Happy Father’s day. I hope that I’m a little more prepared for next year.