Letters to my Children: Most Women do it!

Dear Malina,

The other night I laid down with you while you fell asleep.  As I covered you up and took my place on the pillow beside you, there was an instant change. You went from being half awake to bursting with life, and energy, and words. You kept talking and talking, sometimes about something in the room, sometimes a quote from your favorite movie. As I lay there, warm and tired, your words fade into the background.

Moments later, something startled me and I realized I had dozed off. I also realized that you were still talking. Only now you were on your side, facing me with your head propped up by one hand, just talking away.

I never knew it started so young, and I started to laugh.photo

When your Mom and I first got married, I discovered that her brain and communicative functions became increasingly active as soon as she was lying down.  Even now there are days when we fall in to bed, exhausted from a grueling day of work, children, schedules, and commitments.  And yet, as soon as we lay down, your Mother turns on her side, and wants to know my opinion on immigration, or share thoughts about how to grow our relationship, or the best strategy for planning for your future. In the stillness and quiet of the night, she is alive with hopes and dreams and to-do lists, and friendly banter, while I do my best to emit very  thoughtful and caring grunts to show I am still engaged. After a while, I pretend to reach up to the top of her head, and feel around for the “off” switch. She says, “ok….I’m done” and we drift off to sleep.

I don’t understand this behavior, as it is obviously the sign of a higher functioning species than me.  And I don’t know if this is true of all women, I only know that when I share this observation, it is usually met with agreeing nods and smiles.

So I kiss your forehead and tell you to lie back down.  Turning over, I pretend to go back to sleep. You continue talking to yourself for a few minutes, and then, having spoken enough words for the day, you fall asleep.

When I see you, Malina, I see your Mother in so many ways, and the other night was yet another reminder.

So keep talking honey, and I’ll do my best to always keep listening.

Love,

Dad.

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Letters to my Children: If it’s too hard, just quit!

Dear Evan,

Recently you learned to ride your bike, on your own, without training wheels.  We stood in awe as you placed your feet on the pedals, slipped past the surly bonds of earth, and touched the face of God (it’s a quote….look it up.)

But that incredible moment almost didn’t happen. You wanted your training wheels, we couldn’t find them. You pouted and kicked the dirt, we still couldn’t locate them. We told you to bring your bike anyway, you threw a fit.  Eventually you walked your bike up our gravel driveway and out to the black top.

You tried one time, wobbled, fell, and you were done.  Seeing your sisters buzzing around on their kids bikes with training wheels, you tried again.

This time you wobbled, pedaled harder, straightened out, and you were off; we were screaming, you were laughing, it was beautiful.

For the rest of your life this will be true – the most meaningful, life-shaping, true and noble decisions you will make will also be the most difficult and challenging. You’ll want to quit, you will ask to quit (or try to give yourself permission); you will try to explain to yourself that something this difficult could not be what God has for your life, and that this must not be the direction you should take.  In those moments, the way you choose to respond, will mean the difference between soaring around the parking lot with the spring wind in your face, or walking your bike, that was too hard to ride, back to the garage.

But bikes don’t belong in the garage, and God made you to fly.

Love,

Dad.

P.S. Later that night, you handed your Mom and I this piece of paper with your own “tweet” on it:

bike tweetSo since I cannot tweet, I wrote it down. Here’s what it says, “Today I learned to ride my bike.”

 

Letter to my children: I’m Only a Dad

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.

Suddenly….it’s quiet.

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.100_6029

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.

Love,

Your Dad.

Letters to my Children: You Talk too Much

Dear Adeline,adeline

From the time you were born, you have always had so much to say.  Each morning, before the first bite of syrup-soaked waffle brushes your lips, you have already burned through a small book of observations, comments, songs, questions, random thoughts and unusual mouth sounds.  Each night you spend your last moments, using any unspent words from the day to reject the advances of sleep.

The daylight between those two moments find your brother and I staring at each other in confused disbelief as your mind rotates from one line of thinking to another without missing a beat…. while your Mother just smiles at you like a woman who is on the inside of a secret.

Lately, you have been learning a lot about Jesus, His death on the cross and His resurrection.  You have been talking all about it:

“Daddy, did you know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins??”

 “Three days later he just rose again from the tomb!”

 “Jesus took all of our sin and POOF, they’re gone daddy!”

 “When Jesus died on the cross he broke our sins and we are free!”

 “Can you believe that Jesus died on the cross?”

 “No matter what we do, God still loves us.”

You’re voice is so animated; your eyes are wide and wild. You speak with a smile as you repeat this surprise over and over to anyone and everyone who will listen.  You talk about Jesus as though He is the greatest person who has ever lived, as though the cross and empty tomb was the greatest event in all of history.  When I hear you tell the story, I actually believe it is good news.

As people get older, they don’t talk about Jesus…. at least not like you talk about Him.  You speak so matter-of-fact about Him, you seem genuinely surprised at this unexpected gift, and you assume that others want to hear this amazing story.  But we grown-ups tend to talk about the cross in muted tones and in “appropriate” places.  We know that the answer is Jesus, we just aren’t as amazed as we used to be.

I don’t know why we don’t talk more about Jesus.  I suppose you talk about someone to the extent that you have let him in to your life and allowed him to reshape who you are.  I know for me, the moment my life intersected with your Mother’s, it has never been the same. Then we had, Evan, and a few years later you came along.  Then the surprise that is, Malina, happened and now I find myself forever changed. I don’t know a life that is outside of the one shaped by my family and I welcome any opportunity to talk about you guys to anyone who will listen.

Your brother and I might be tempted to say you talk too much right now. But in your impressive display of words are cradled the very depth and length and width and height of God’s love.  The reason you seem so surprised and amazed and filled with Joy is because the good news of, Jesus, is surprising and amazing and the source of lasting joy.

May you always see the wonder that is Jesus, and never stop talking about Him.

Love,

Your Dad.