Dear Evan, Adeline, and Malina.
It must be an old childhood secret, passed on from one child to the next for centuries. I did the same thing when I was your age, so what you were trying to do was easy to recognize.
You’re riding home, strapped in to your car seat like an astronaut, talking and laughing, and fighting and kicking the back of your Mom’s seat.And then we turn off of the main road on to a side road that leads to our driveway.
As I look back to investigate the silence, I can see you with your eyes closed…..opening slightly to see if we are close to home yet, and then closing again….I can see the whole thing. As we pull in to the driveway, you even slump over in your seat for dramatic effect. You’ve learned that if you appear to be asleep, I will gently unbuckle you, and softly pull your limp body from the car and carry you inside.
So while we are placing our secrets on the table….let me tell you mine.
The truth is, I would carry you anyway.
As much as I want you to walk, and as often as I fight your advances to be held, what I’ve realized is that one of the many passing pleasures in my life as a Father is to carry you in my arms. Few things can compete with having your little legs wrapped around my body, your tiny hands around my neck, your head on my shoulder and your heart beating against mine. I’m only a Dad, taunted by faults and insecurities and feeling grossly inadequate for the task I’ve been given….but I can carry you, if only for a short time.
For I know this cannot last….I know that in time….given your growth pattern and my aging back (not to mention the odd looks from your friends) my days of carrying you will come to an end. But I cannot promise that the desire to carry you will ever go away — through breakups and disappointments; in heartache and loss and downsizing. I have no doubt there will be many times in a life such as this, where I will want so badly to keep you safe and protect you from all that I know living can sometimes mean.
In those moments, I know I must trust you to the care of another Father, the one who spoke you in to existence, placed you in my arms, and promises to never leave you. I pray that I would live my life as a Father in such a way that the transition from my arms to His is both obvious and slightly familiar.
But on this Father’s Day, please know that for as long as I can, and as long as you’ll let me….I will carry you….even if you are only pretending to sleep.