It is difficult remembering a time in my life where I didn't want to be a father. Just like anyone, I'm sure, I didn't give it much thought, if any, during adolescence. Certainly not before where I was constantly on the cusp of self-discovery and adventure. But if you were to ask me at any given time during my teenage years - where like it or not that "cusp" wasn't always endowed with pleasantries and accolades - if I wanted to one day be married and have kids, the answer would have been an emphatic yes.
Having now been married for thirteen years and being a father three times over, I have succumbed to the realities of having a family. Some realities you hear about, but have to experience yourself to realize the severity certain situations entail. The crying, whining and fussing come to mind. Thanks to daily meditation, I longer do two of those three things.
Other realities still need to be experienced to truly appreciate the blessings they are. The teachable moments, snuggling on the couch and of course the hugs and kisses. It baffles me why anyone would, by choice, abandon that environment. That gift. While I understand the frustrations that go along with raising children and that there are days you are enveloped with feelings of doubt, fear and sheer craziness, I am still unable to comprehend a parent - sometimes both - deciding to make their kids part of their past. For me, the amount of joy in the present prohibits such ridiculous thoughts from entering my heart and mind.
I am surprised of the level of disappointment I feel only because I have always set high standards for myself. I just thought I'd be a better father than I am. The enemy loves when I lay in bed while self-doubt and fear fester igniting a sense of defeat. It's a battle I need to overcome on a daily basis. I often, in my prayers, thank God for giving me a clean slate every day. Sometimes I fill that slate with priceless moments and others I'm requesting another day to prove that I deserve to be in a position I have sought for many years. A good father.
Setting aside where I may rank in the aforementioned category, there are certain moments that I knew would happen during my reign of fatherhood. They are moments that don't disappoint. They are the grand slams of childhood that I have the opportunity to live vicariously through the spirit of my daughters. An opportunity I cherish with the utmost acknowledgement of its true identity...a blessing.
The other week, two events were stitched together stoking the wildfire of my fatherhood. The first was witnessing my daughter's first points in a basketball game. It was actually her first time ever being on a team so not only had she not scored a basket before in a game, she had never scored a goal or crossed the plate for a run. But there she was. My daughter. Five-feet away dropping in a jump-shot for two points neither she or I will ever forget. Forever captured on a home video. It was an emotional moment for me. I knew it would be. But I'm still not sure if it was her first official points of her life or the smile on her face as she ran back on D that had me all choked up.
A few days later, not really wanting to, but doing it for good daddy points, I offered to take the bicycle up to the ball field so Bailey could learn to ride. Having learned myself when I was four, I couldn't help to feel like I had failed as a father for allowing so much time to pass and not having her learn. Ignoring the enemy's whispers, I quickly got over it. A lot of factors, other than family dynamics, played a part. For one, I had the luxury of a backyard that took more than a hop, skip and a jump to cross. Our yard now, you'd be lucky to get a half-skip in before colliding with the HOA-erected fence. While we don't have much of a yard, we do have a middle-school only a short walk away that supplies a track for activities such as running and riding the scooter. It also had ball fields for kickball and baseball and not to mention small rocks that the girls would use to add to their collection - which they kept at the home run fence on the adjacent field. My point is, there was always so many other things to do. The way I look at it, at least Bailey has a father willing to teach her to ride no matter what age she is. It turns out that she didn't need much teaching. On her first attempt she was sailing through one of the rites of passage of childhood. She was so proud of herself and with a huge smile on her face, I could not have been more thrilled.
I thank the Lord for the reign of fatherhood.
Videos to come...