Good morning dads.
I'm beginning a new series this morning and I have the feeling that this will become a new book somewhere down the road.
I don't know how long I'll be writing this...each idea seems to yield a dozen more. But I'll write this until I feel like I'm done writing it. I don;t know where it's going...but I can tell you where it began.
My daughter turned 15 two weeks ago. 15 years have come and gone in the blink of an eye. That's true of all parenthood I suppose, but more so when you are divorced and your time is segmented and reduced by the order of a court and the inequity of visitation laws. Once a week and every other weekend is not equitable. You can't turn off your fatherhood on the days you don't have your kids. So you hold your breath on the days in between, listening to the time as it escapes your grasp and noticing how much they grow from week to week instead of the day-to-day that intact families experience.
My daughter's life is the greatest thing I have ever been a part of. She is the finest young woman I have ever known and there has been no point along this 15 year journey that she has not been the apple of my eye and the joy of my every day.
All I ever really wanted was to be a dad. From as early as I can remember, I knew that somehow being a dad would make up for not really having one myself. There was a man in my house. The man my mother married. But we wasn't my dad. He merely married my mom and there wasn't a connection. There wasn't a bond. There wasn't love. My father is yet another story. I've spoken to him twice in my life and that's the way he wants it. I have cut him slack for 23 years while his stories changed and he avoided me, I'm all done excusing his shameful behavior. That's not how a man behaves. Period. I have accepted the fact that a man can be someone's father and not be their dad. That's my father. I won't mention either man again in this series. I am not writing this to explore my childhood, but my fatherhood. But in order to set up the background to my fatherhood, this stuff needed to be understood. When I became a dad I stood at a crossroads where I had to choose whether I would continue the pattern of fatherhood that was modeled in front of me as a child, or whether I would do the job the right way.
I chose to be a dad. I started learning how, years before my daughter was born and years before I even met her mom. I read books, watched seminars, read magazine articles. I also made mental notes about the great dads I had come to know. The fathers of friends of mine and men in my church. Sports coaches. I wanted to be a great dad when the time came.
I was married for 7 months when my wife discovered we were pregnant. We were going out to dinner with some friends, celebrating my 34th birthday. Holly had been feeling "odd". The woman who was going to dinner with us described some of the things she felt when she was pregnant and Holly said "That sounds like me" I pulled into the nearest Walgreens and bought a pregnancy test kit. We continued on to the restaurant and Holly went to the ladies room and took all three test strips with her. All thing came back positive.
We tried to be cool and calm but we were scared. We had only been married for 7 months and had been practicing birth control like religion. We definitely wanted kids...just not right then.
By the next morning, we had accepted it and we were excited. I was calling all my friends and getting ready to start being a dad.
In hindsight, I became a dad that very night...as soon as I found out I was going to be one. From that day forward, everything I did and planned and hoped and dreamed was for this future child and the world I would give her. Had I known right away that I was having a girl, and had she been able to hear me and understand me, I think I would have told her...
"Tonight your mom and I found out you were coming and we were going to be a mom and dad. I can't even begin to tell you how I feel tonight. How excited I am. How I already have begun dreaming dreams and planning plans. I am already praying for you and for me...so that I will be the best daddy a little girl could have. I am scared. being a dad is a huge thing and if I do it wrong, you will pay a higher price than I will. But if I do it right, your life will be exactly what God has in mind for it to be. I promise I will try. I will pray for you every day. I will never leave you alone. I will do everything I can to see your dreams come true...even if I have to surrender my own dreams along the way. I can;t wait to see you, to hold you in my arms, change your diaper, rock you to sleep, watch you while you dream and pray for you on my knees next to your bed. I wonder if you'll have blonde hair like your mom, or dark hair like me. I bet you'll be tall and beautiful like her. I know this much...your mom and dad love you already.
I love you so much and we just found out about you. I can't imagine how a lifetime will feel.
I know this much...God made me with a heart that loves children and desires fatherhood. God chose you for us. Nobody else on earth could have come together and made someone exactly like you and who you'll become. I can't wait to see you. I'm already happier knowing you'll be here soon. Because all I ever wanted was to be your dad."