Daddy Issues

I heard joy in my husband’s voice today when his dad picked up the other end of the line.  One little word both filled my heart and pricked a scar mostly healed.

“Dad!!” he exclaimed, with a genuine and heartfelt smile.

Encapsulated in one syllable lies the longing of so many hearts and the responsibility resting heavily on so many others.

It’s perhaps the easiest and most welcome task for most men to begin the process of a new life.  It is perhaps the most challenging to hold that life as precious for the remainder of his own.

Many fail.  No statistic I can share is necessary.  Just look around at all of the souls obviously clamoring for someone to see them.  There is no need for me to try to tell the story that is already blaring loud and glaringly clear, screaming that we have a world full of folks with some serious daddy issues.

Daddies who are absent either physically or have checked out and are preoccupied mentally.  Daddies standing at soccer games who have no idea the heart’s cry of the child running in front of them, and daddies who aren’t standing at the soccer games at all.  Daddies whose own needs outweigh everything around them.

I write from a perspective of mere observation, and, of course, only my own two shoes of experience.  I can tell you what I’ve seen in the best of daddies.  I can tell you what I missed. And oddly, they are the same.

It’s just love, you guys.  It’s just plain love.

My husband was a busy, busy man through the growing years of my children.  His jobs kept him very occupied;  he took his responsibility very seriously to take care of his family.  He was the only source of income for us, and that weighed heavily.  Responsibility is important.  Providing is really important.  Both of those characteristics are things I admire very much about him.  I think he’d be the first to tell you that he was sometimes too busy.  Not sure he could have changed that, but I know there were things he missed out on sacrificially so his family had what they needed and so that I could stay home with our kids.

But, though that was so vital to us, it isn’t what made him a good daddy.  It’s part of the equation, but it isn’t the key.

My husband rough-housed and had tickle fights.  He built forts inside and outside.  He always went in the water and swam with his kids.  He disciplined justly and paid attention to the little things.  He KNEW his kids — both their attributes and their struggles.  His eyes got wet when their hearts broke.  Their dreams created a cheerleader and idea-maker in him.  He was humble enough to ask forgiveness when he hurt a heart.

All and each of these were things I longed for from my dad, but they aren’t what make a good daddy — rather the force behind each beautiful action.

When I read that list, when I recall all the moments, when I observe them even now, I don’t see perfection in my husband.  He wasn’t designed for that.  When I remember, though, when I watch him in action, I see so much love.  It makes him better.  It makes him present.  It makes him lead.  It makes him strong enough to carry what needs to be carried.  It is the reason and the motivator behind it all.

Love in action makes him a daddy. 

To those of you feeling like you’ve dropped the ball, to any of you who feel like your flaws are outweighing your fathering, don’t give up.  From a daughter who felt like a little girl waiting for her daddy to see her for all of her years, there was never going to be a *too late.*  If at any point, my dad would’ve said, “I see you.  You matter more to me than how I feel.  I would do anything for you,” and then lived it out, it would have changed my life.

It would’ve made me answer the phone with such joy!

Your legacy is what your kids will say about you.  It is the stories that they will tell, good or bad to their kids and their grandkids.

All it takes is to let love lead.  It’s never too late.

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Now I know…

What I’ve learned from the best daddy ever.

Well, really, it has nothing at all to do with Father’s Day, except that he inspired these lessons and, in effect, me so let’s just chalk it up to a great Father’s Day post, shall we?

How Christian burst the happy bubble I lived in.

If you know my man at all, you know this. If he meets you, you are now his friend. Our family says that everywhere he goes, he has to make a friend. Like, he can’t leave a conversation until a friend is made. This means that we might wait forty-five minutes in the car while he makes a friend with the cashier. Or the hostess. Or the guy in NYC selling homemade dvd’s of his amazing “music”.

We complain. Yes, we do. I’ve said it before, and I repeat it daily. I spend my life waiting for Christian.

But, his friendliness has changed folks’ lives. He has impacted people around the world. He has made a difference. He thinks the best of folks whether they deserve it or not.

And, in turn, inspired his family to try to do the same.

Granted, we try to sum it all up and do in two minutes what he might need a half an hour for, but he really burst our little–stay-in-our-own-worlds–bubbles and taught each of us to reach out and make an effort in other people’s lives. And, I’m proud to see it in my children, and even in myself every now and again.

I’ve learned that there is a song for every occasion. I mean every sentence. If he hears someone say, “It’s a beautiful day!” he will (like clockwork) always sing a song by Bono. In fact, he is so known for it, that song is his ringtone.

My man can change any words he hears spoken into a song he recalls from various decades. It’s fascinating what he’s stored up in his brain. Sometimes I tease him for it. It’s true. But, life is a bit easier with a song, is it not? And I can’t tell you how many moods he’s lightened.

The beat goes on. Life has its rhythms, and those rhythms take up residency in Christian’s head. And they turn everything into complicated beats–on steering wheels and the back of my arm–or head.

His mind works in ways I couldn’t repeat if my life depended on it. No matter how bad the day may be, the beat goes on. And a happy little rhythm ticks away and marks the time.

Strength wears different faces. Some days it is brute strength that can carry a tired, pregnant wife up a steep hill while pushing a stroller.

Other times, strength is holding up a weeping, broken wife who cannot stand on her own. Or standing in the way of a verbal rock being thrown. Or just taking “that phone call.”

And it may just look like a man in tears as he prays for his children to know the love of his God the way he does.

Whatever shape it’s wearing on any given day, when I think of strength, I picture a guy who embodies it every day in a million ways. And I am grateful.

Happy Daddy’s Day to all those guys who hold our worlds up and make them keep spinning the right way; who make us smile and hold our hands and those of the little punkins they stand as a models for.

Because of mine, I know what love looks like…