Father’s day was last Sunday but I just received a card from my second to youngest daughter. In the hustle and bustle to get to our house for breakfast on Sunday, she had forgotten to bring it and told me she would drop it off later.
It is a thoughtful card and inside she had penned a note about how grateful she is that I am her father and so on. I am glad that she feels this way but there is still something in me that says “I could have been better” which has the effect of almost negating the good things she has to say about me in her note.
It’s not that I don’t believe her or believe that she really feels this way about me—I just have a hard time feeling that I earned or deserve her compliments. Relationships with your children can be sticky and over the years the complications of parenthood sometimes overshadow the other stuff.
I could have been a better dad—even after all these years I am still selfish with my time and am in process—but I guess that is not really the point either.
When Sandi and I became parents we bagan a journey that would take us into the same unchartered waters that all those parents before and those that would come after entered into—we were basically writting our own “parenting manual” each and every day. We did some things right and some things wrong and were sometimes quick and sometimes slow to make the changes that were necessary to make things work better. We spent more time with the first than we did the second and by the time the third one popped out we were a bit in over our heads as it were.
Lydia was a people person and so she spent a lot of time in our neighborhood with her friends. Our lives had gotten busy and sometimes, in retrospect, I feel she may have fallen through a few cracks that we would have closed had we been paying more attention. But what is done is done—right!
We had family values for sure—dinner time at our house was scaroscant—which means that at 5:30, no matter where they were, it was time to gather around the table and have dinner. We attended church faithfully and for almost 15 plus years took a family vacation at the beach in South Carolina every September. It was our tradition and we all looked forward to that time.
Birthdays were special days and Thanksgiving and Christmas were always times to gather and give thanks for what we were as a family. We did baseball and track and school plays as well and in the process took a lot of pictures which chronicle those times. We encouraged our kids to be self-sufficient, trustworthy and good workers—to think for themselves and desire a relationship with God.
So—after all of this I have almost talked myself into believing that our lives were exceptional and full of everything that most people only dream of—and that to is the point. They were and are and have not yet been fully lived out—we are on this ride together and that’s a good thing in this day and age.
Therefore—in the midst of my middle age thing—I am grateful for the fact that my daughter loves me and feels that I have been a good dad—even though I can think of a lot of reasons why I wasn’t what I could have been.
In a very real sense, our lives begin today and go forward from this point on. Yesterday’s spilled milk can never be put back into the container but who would want to anyway.
I will be, and have been, a better husband, father and friend than I will ever be able to come to terms with. But at any moment this could change as well and I could accept myself for who I am and have been created to be and jump as high on the trampoline of life as I dare to go.
There’s a lot of summer left here in these mountains and there is still a family being born that I am a part of.
What’s not to like about that?
After Note: I wrote this early am and in the moment. I did get a great card and a coffee mug with an zebra on it from my youngest daughter on Sunday (she always does awesome cards) and two cards from my oldest daughter. The first one came back to her with postage due so she sent them both out with the right postage. They arrived today. I got a call from my son and one from my firstborn as well. I do feel loved up on in just the right way.