February 12, 2018
Daughters are a mystery to dads. Poor Paul is at a total disadvantage. How is Paul supposed to figure out these girls who are decades younger than he is, when he can’t even figure out his wife who is just one month younger?
He experienced growing up a boy, and everything that goes along with that. He doesn’t know what it’s like to have a giggling boy run past and pop your bra strap. He doesn’t know the insecurity of the preteen girl. I’ve been with Paul at the mall and watched something happen that he would never even notice. Two girls walking side by side. One drops back a few steps behind her friend, then speeds up to fall back in stride. “You’re good.” “Thanks.”
Fathers of daughters are blessed with vision from a completely different perspective. But that gift has its blind spots. There are things dads don’t know.
Grace gave her Dad and amazing gift of a letter just recently. It was a thank you card. After everything we have been through, this was Grace’s heart for her dad. “Dad, I wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done for me and everything you will do for me. I love you very much. I was listening to No Longer a Slave by Bethel Music. It says ‘you split the seas so I could walk right through it. My fears were drowned in perfect love. You rescued me so I could stand and sing I am a child of God.’ I know the song references God splitting the seas for us. I see the same quality in you. Thank you for creating a path for me, for splitting the seas that are my problems. Thank you for allowing me the independence to walk safely on my own and to see that I can literally walk right through my problems. You are a good, good father. I love you, Grace”
Paul read his letter, then put it on the bed. He walked away and cried in the shower. I read it and cried. My first thoughts were that I was thankful Grace would write something that brought her dad to tears, and thankful that Paul is the kind of dad who would cry. No. That’s not honest. Those were not my first thoughts. My first thought was “where is my letter?” It must have fallen beneath the dresser.
I am a selfish mother. I love my kids and I would die for my kids. But I am selfish. When my kids ask what I want for my birthday, I tell them that I don’t need or want anything at all. My kids know I am lying. They know they better make chocolate butter cream icing and I better have some thoughtful gifts and a nice dinner. If my house is not a hub of activity the night before my birthday, I will text my sister and ask her why my family is acting like tomorrow is not a big deal. When Grace gave me a gift-wrapped box of store brand saltine crackers for my birthday and there wasn’t any jewelry or a gift certificate for a pedicure inside the box, I smiled and thanked her and said I would enjoy my crackers with some cheese. But I stewed over the fact that my daughter didn’t love me enough to even buy me some cheese. But then I went to bed and pulled down my comforter to find a brand new electric blanket. Grace pranked me because she knows I’m too selfish to be ok with a box of saltines. So if my kids know how selfish I am, then surely Grace had a letter for me. I know she didn’t rob my stash of thank-you cards and write to her dad but not to me. It must have fallen beneath the dresser.
I’ve given Grace the disappointed, silent treatment when what she needed was my unconditional love. I’ve pulled away from Emily’s snuggles at bedtime because my tv show was about to come on. I’ve given up on Lauryn’s anxiety because it was too exhausting to make it make any sense. And these are things they will remember when I am gone. I’ve fussed over being inconvenienced having to drive here and there. I’ve told them they just have to hold it because I’m not taking them to the bathroom until I’m done eating my food. I’ve made them go get this and that because I just don’t feel like getting it myself. And these are the things they will remember when I am gone.
But I remember years ago there was a hippie couple pushing their broke down motorcycle up our hilly street when I was 7, and they were the only people who stopped at my lemonade stand. So now I drive out of my way to follow signs for lemonade stands and I always stop. And I always buy Girl Scout cookies when I see a table set up outside the grocery. If kids knock on my door selling anything for their team or club, I’ll always buy something. The girls know Mom always has change to give each of them to drop in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas. And I hope these are the things they will remember when I am gone.
This just happened…a car just pulled down our driveway. Nobody ever just pulls down our driveway unless they mean to. I’m sitting in the front room typing and I saw the car and called out to the girls “somebody is here. Are we expecting anyone?” Then I saw who it was. Grace’s best friend came walking up to the door and all 4 of us girls welcomed her. We stood in the foyer and she told Grace, me, Lauryn, and Emily that her boyfriend broke up with her this past weekend. Seriously men?! We need a moratorium on breakups the week before and the week after Valentines Day. It’s not that we need your affection to validate our worth on February 14, but it’s a whole other level of disrespect to break up right now. So we gathered around the broken hearted one and nodded our heads and told her this sucks. Yes. This sucks for Him because he isn’t ready for a woman as wonderful as her at this selfish time in his life. Grace and her friend are at the kitchen table talking about giving 100% and meeting half way and how things change, but Lauryn and Emily saw what a breakup looks like and how we as women circle around in love. I hope this is one thing they will remember when I am gone.
So you know I had to look beneath the dresser to see if my letter from Grace was hiding there. It wasn’t. This isn’t my passive way of guilting Grace into writing me a letter. I’m great at guilt. But I’ve realized hunting beneath the dresser shows insecurity and desperation that I don’t want my daughters to remember when I am gone. I’ve worked through it and I know I don’t need that letter. Paul’s letter will always be a dear treasure to him. But I have other treasures.
I carried these girls all by myself. I grew them. Everything they were born with came from my body. And as babies, I fed them from my body. I teach them the ways of women. The secrets we have, and the joys and sorrows of being a woman come from me. I understand them the way a woman understands. And I do have the memory of every bathroom trip at all the restaurants and stores, and I’ve been in the dressing rooms. I’m the one who gets the phone call telling me I need to stop at Walgreens on my way home from work. I’ve shopped for Easter outfits and helped with high heels. I know my way around Sephora and Ulta, and they ask me for jars for critters from the creek. They have cried to me about their bodies and about the changes. And I have collected all their tears because I know how painful it was to cry them.
And I have seen mothers of sons with beautiful treasures of their own. And like Paul, fathers of daughters have a lifetime of treasured memories unique to them. And fathers of sons have the treasured responsibility of raising up the next generation of men. And I’ve seen parents selflessly love a child grafted into their family through adoption, and there is no treasure that compares. But in my family, I am the Treasure Seeker, and I know my treasure will never be hidden beneath a dresser. My treasures are buried deep within my heart. “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart,” Luke 2:19 ESV