I wrote this in May . . .
Oh son, I can hardly believe that we only have ten more summers together before you are post-high school. Where have the past ten years gone? I remember so well feeling like the proudest daddy on the planet the week you were born. That special five days in the hospital – your mother, me, and our newborn baby. We were so happy that God had given you to us. The nurse put you in my arms that very first night and tears streamed down my face. The first few days I felt like you were my fragile gift – I was afraid I might hurt you in some way. I can still feel my excitement as we walked into the front door of our house holding you and taking you to your nursery.
I had so many hopes, so many dreams, so many determinations. Amazingly, now I find myself half-way through the journey with you. That was almost ten years ago, and ten years from now you will be nineteen. How sobering. This past year I have wrestled with the reality that I can’t control our destiny, I can’t make life perfect, that I can’t fulfill every dream I had as an idealistic 28-year old new dad.
There have been wonderful graces along the way – our Buddy Breakfasts over Hardee’s Cinammon Raisin Biscuits, bike rides and trips to the icee stand, hours spent in swimming pools and creeks, rides on the Mystery Mine and roller coasters at Dollywood, family devotions before going to bed, lots of talks about superheroes, late-night conversations lying next to each other in the dark. I’ve knelt by your bedside or stood over you many a night in prayer – sometimes with throbs of joy in my throat – other times with tears streaming down my face.
I’ve had to accept that I can’t make everything happen like a fairy tale in our lives. I can’t keep away the invasion of disappointments, like when your grandfather died two years ago. I don’t have the wealth and affluence I’d often like for our family. I can’t make life always easy and problem free. I’m learning to accept that life is what it is, and that even if I can’t make everything happen that I wanted to ten years ago – that God has been good.
Attending a writer’s conference at Ridgecrest Conference Center this week, I was reminded of the trips our family has made here the past four summers for camps. Stopping at the preschool complex, I gazed on the Noah’s ark play equipment I’ve watched you play on, viewed the classrooms I’ve picked my children up from many a nights, and looked through the fence where I’ve spotted your sister swinging in days past. Our first year at camp we took your brother to the infant room and you to the 5 year old. The last two summers you moved up into the elementary camp. And now this year your brother will be in the four year old room. When all three of you stayed in the preschool building, we had a surreal sense that life would go on like that forever. But the hands of time play dirty tricks on young parents. Suddenly we realize a bit more that even young families will grow up. Reminiscing at those spots today I thanked the Lord for the investment your mother and I have been able to make into you our children.
At this week’s writers’conference rookie writers are buzzing with excitement in the hopes of getting published. Making appointments with editors in the hopes of pitching a proposal. In the quietness of those moments at the preschool buildings, the Lord reminded me in his still quiet voice that His perspective is what matters. And the accomplishment that matters most on this earth is the investment of giving my children a godly father and a peaceful, happy home. Even if life is sometimes shaded with disappointment, if all of our dreams do not materialize, and if there are bumps in the road, I know that I have experienced one of the greatest rewards known to man – being a father. That endeavor will outlive me.
Son, I pray that the Lord will enable me the next nine years to not get so caught up in the rush and hurry of life that I lose that perspective. We have ten summers left. Let’s make the most of them.