Stay in your lane

June 16, 2019

It’s Father’s Day again. Most days of the year, Paul and I are really good at co-parenting our girls. But Father’s Day is the day that reminds me that there is definitely a prudent division of labor in our family, and it’s best if I stay in my lane.

Paul is known as my 1970 model Mr. Coffee coffee maker because he makes the coffee every morning and serves it to me after my shower. I was headed to the kitchen this morning so I could make coffee for him. He beat me to it, and it’s probably for the best. He’s better at cooking bacon, and I proved that today. He’s also world famous for his pancakes. It’s just what he does when the girls have friends here for sleepovers. Pancakes shouldn’t be difficult, but this morning there was a collision of coffee, bacon, pancakes, and my cell phone. Paul handles breakfast like a boss, and I know I should just stay in my lane.

He’s also better at memory making. He’d never let the sun rise on a family birthday without jamming out to the Beetles Birthday song. His daughters will remember Paul dropping random song lyrics into unsuspecting conversations. This morning it was “I can bring home the bacon…fry it up in a pan.” His fingerprints have been all over softball when he helped coach in the past. He took a step back from Emily’s softball season because he’s been trying to get Lauren back into the game after surgery. It gets on Lauren’s nerves the way Paul pushes her, but someday she will remember that nobody believed in her more than her dad. Paul played ball and he knows the game. He knows strategy and technique. I’m a dug out mom who can yell “get your helmet on, NOW!” I can’t fake being in his lane.

Emily wanted to relive some old memories from past Father’s Days. Years ago, her gift to Paul was a mini-golf date…with matching blue polo shirts. We weren’t planning on putt putt today, until Emily asked. So off to Adventure Landing, and just for old time’s sake, Emily stole one of Dad’s T-shirt’s so they could both be in gray. Somehow, the gray worked magic, as they both ended up with 5 holes in 1. I’m gonna stay out of his lane since I was the only player without a hole in 1.

Grace the artist got sidetracked when she went shopping for her dad’s gift yesterday. She was headed to the sporting goods store near the mall, but didn’t make it past Olivet Church Road. Yard sales caught her eye, and she found a painting she thought Paul would love. It’s an acrylic painting. When she revealed it to Paul today, she said she knew that he was the one who appreciates painting the most, and they sat and discussed the texture and color and composition of this creation that is probably older than Paul. I appreciate every bit of art that flows out of Grace, but watching them discuss this painting and looking at their matching father-daughter tattoos, I understand they ride in that lane together.

At dinner, Paul went around the table and recounted some of his strongest memories of each girl. Seattle. Preemie. Daddy’s girl. Then each daughter spoke up about some of their favorite memories of their dad. Candyland. Softball. Late night walks. I cried through part of it because I know that as wonderful as it is to be the mom, there’s something special between Paul and his girls. My lane ain’t close to that.

Paul’s got a deep story, and I’ve been around for barely more than half of it at this point. He encourages others through his story when appropriate because he knows a thing or two. He knows that the humble acceptance of redemption and reconciliation are powered and funded by the limitless resources of the grace, mercy, and yes judgment of a long suffering God. That knowledge shapes the way he parents in every way. It came out in the political conversation last Friday night. It shows up in how Paul interacts with the friends and boyfriends we see weekly. It’s obvious when he calls out bad choices and follows up with forgiveness and full restoration. Paul and I don’t share the same side of the story, though we are in it together. But we share these girls and we share all the kids that come and go through our doors. That’s a huge responsibility. We can handle that together. But there are many times I have to stand back and just let Paul handle what he needs to handle, whether it’s pancakes, softball, or discipline because I know he has an insight and discernment I don’t have. I’ve learned when take the wheel, and I’ve learned when to stay in my lane.

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