I often just look at my girls. I take in their features and I’m left in awe of them; each created with a unique beauty. I have loved watching them grow out of their awkward, disproportionate baby shapes into well-proportioned beings. I see, in each of them, traces of the shared DNA, fused at conception. The family likeness is striking but different in each face, mannerism and attitude. Furthermore, there is a transcendence of the shared DNA as each one finds her own voice.
What frightens me most about this process is that it can’t be stopped. They will continue to grow. I see it most in my eight year old, Mikaela. Recently, in fact, I have become increasingly aware of the woman in the girl. It’s as if the transformation has happened overnight. She is far from being a women and yet, the traces are definitely there. I see it in her features: for me, beautiful and pure. I hear it in the things she says: the maturity with which she responds in conversation. I experience it in her empathy for others and her love for all of us, marked by grace and patience. She is, however, still a little girl. Before I know it, the little girl will metamorphose and the woman will emerge. Neil Diamond was right: she’ll be a woman soon.
That is why today counts. I want to seize each moment because I know that the relationship I want to have with my girls in their womanhood starts now. I don’t want regrets when I walk them down that bitter-sweet aisle one day. I will not be able to make up for lost time in the future. I have to be incarnational dad now: involved, listening, hearing, loving.
I was challenged by the following comment which James Loggie recently left on this blog:
Mine are fast approaching 16, so here’s a post-it note for you. They talk a lot more the older they get, and they want real answers – grunts just won’t do. Boys become an issue, you’re a boy so it’s your fault. They are going to want to know what boys are thinking, telling them they may not be thinking, whilst probably true, is just going to get you into a whole lot more trouble.
Your relationship with Yolanda sets the tone for the relationship they are going to want when they grow up. The little sponges that they are will be soaking up your every interaction with her. Talk about your relationship, everything, over and over. Even the arguments are good, because they will see the love and respect that endures despite the differences.
It’s tough sometimes not to worry about the future. Over the years I have seen many fathers regretting the vast dad-and-daughter divide that they have unwittingly created. Those same daughters have been heart-broken and frustrated, often turning elsewhere for love. I don’t want to be that Dad and I don’t want my girls to be that daughter.
Also, despite me, I am convinced that God has a plan for their lives. He also urges me to not worry about tomorrow or be anxious about anything. I am to live for today and pray about everything. And maybe that’s where the answer lies because, to be honest, I’m bound to screw up a lot. I can, however, pray:
Lord, I can’t stop the clock. They’ll be women soon. Help me to be an authentic, engaged and loving father who points Mikaela, Gemma and Emily to you. Use me to help them understand your purpose for their lives. Amen.