Four years ago, I was celebrating Father’s Day for the first time, nervously overwhelmed holding my not-even-two-month-old son. Today, I feel gratefully content holding my three-month old daughter while discussing roly polies with my four-year old son.
I remember celebrating Father’s Day with my dad pretty simply, hanging around the house, maybe grilling and eating a home-made dessert or store-bought cherry pie, and wondering why he never wanted to go out and about to celebrate or do something as a family.
This year, I didn’t have big plans to celebrate my own Father’s Day. Church, hang around the house and maybe some grilling. My truth today, as I celebrate my fourth Father’s Day is that I’ve been made into this homebody that enjoys just following the lead of my children.
I still have the drive to want to take the family out and take an airplane ride or such excursion on a Father’s Day. But in the end, a simple bike ride and ice cream journey was enough. Especially the part when my son shouted, “You’re doing good on Father’s Day,” as I muscled the bike trailer up a steep hill.
You’d think as a father that I should lead, as I do. I also lay down the law, get frustrated, shout when the stand-off to come to the dinner table occurs and execute some of the functions of keeping up a house of four, say by mowing the lawn or even doing the dishes. But when I sit back and peer through my kids’ eyes the wonder and excitement they have for the world, just being with them is enough.
My infant daughter is still working the neck muscles to hold her head but as she lays on her back and coos a story to me, her eyes sparkle. My son turns the back yard into a hide-and-go seek world of imagination.
There is something magical about just being with them that makes me not want to plan a thing and just follow their spirit for life.
So for this Father’s Day, I’m taking stock of some things that will help me continue my growth:
- Take my promises seriously. The other day I promised a game of hide-and-seek after dinner, and caught the promise fleeting from my mind as the busyness of the evening moved forward. We blew past bedtime but I made sure to work it in.
- Let go of the little things. This is a toughie. A dinner stand-off once spiraled into me carrying my son to his room, twice. Both of us were left shaking and upset. Dinner time is important to me, but maybe I could just show him he’s missing out next time, rather than use force.
- Follow his lead. Life is busy. And I like to arrive on time. But I hope I can follow my son’s lead and enjoy the stroll to the garage, watching for birds or pointing out worms. When it really comes down to it, what more is there than enjoy the stroll to where you are going? (God, help me learn this and to not forget it.)
- Trust. Also another toughie. The older one is infatuated with his younger infant sister, and he’s always putting his face in her’s, up to her’s and rubbing her head. I lost count long ago how many times I have reminded, “gentle” in this situation. Maybe I can trust that he has this in his mind?
- Be patient. I have had many unrealistic expectations for myself over the years. And I’ve wanted them when I want them and that’s always now. It’s taken me almost half a lifetime to see this thinking is unrealistic, so why would I expect my children to get this.
Here’s to continuous improvement and forgiveness.