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Our Little Flower is Blooming

January 26, 2009

My Darling Daughter is four years old today.

Four years ago today, my wife, my newborn daughter, and I hosted a steady stream of visitors in the sanctuary of the hospital birthing room.  We were shell-shocked, sleep-deprived, and in awe.  Until that morning, I never really understood what an amazing woman I had married and the feelings I would experience as a Dad.  As I’ve written before, women generally start bonding with the child they carry within about 33 seconds of conception.  We guys are a little slower to catch the wave.

People talk about how great it is to be a parent, but I couldn’t really grasp the concept.  However, in the last four years I’ve come to really appreciate how truly cool it is to be the Daddy!

In the last four years I’ve been motivated to be less selfish, less of a workaholic, and more focused on passing a strong legacy onto my kids.  I’m less motivated to make compromises in my time, my attention, my health, and my journey.  I am more motivated to overcome the addictions and dysfunctions that have been handed down in the form of generational curses.  I am more motivated to support my beautiful wife for the time, energy, and passion she puts into our kids.

It used to be that a child’s first birthday was a major milestone.  So many kids never lived long enough to experience that first birthday.  Disease, accidents, and the environment all took their toll on the lives of kids.  Our DD’s first birthday was special, as was the second and third, but this fourth birthday carries some weight that I don’t fully understand at this point.  In fact, I’m feeling a bit melancholy today.

It is exciting to see her grow up.  She is quite bright, very cute, and very articulate.  While my opinion and feelings may be a bit biased, I do think that we have a special little girl in our midst.  At the same time, she is stubborn, independent, and willful – all traits she lovingly inherited from me. (I’m sorry Darling Daughter)

On the other hand, there is a part of me that grieves this birthday.  As my 78 year-old Canadian uncle asked last night, “Do you know how long it takes to get from four to forty?”

“In the blink of an eye,” I replied.

That’s it.  I remember being four.  I don’t remember much before that, but I remember being four – and it wasn’t that long ago.  I remember being 14, and the trauma of adolescents.  24 was an interesting time, as was 34 and 44.  It won’t be long before I begin to think that 44 year olds look really young and vibrant.

Each year, each decade, each experience removed a layer of innocence.  At four years old, I was invincible, unscathed, and lived in each moment.  I abosorbed each moment with no care about the past, no fear of the future, no vision of what was around the next corner, and no hangups or baggage.

Maybe this is why I’m feeling melancholy.

It was at four years old that I had my bubble burst.  I was four when kids first began to tease me for the residual scars of my facial birth defects.  It was at four that I began to experience rejection to the depth of my soul.  It was at four that I began to withdraw from society, in self defense of the ridicule, teasing, and bullying.  Could it be that I’m projecting those feelings onto my daughter?

I don’t think I am, but it is good to introspect on that for a few moments.  I think my melancholic grieving has more to do with watching our little girl grow up.  Knowing that she won’t be our little girl much longer.  I’d like to preserve this little sweetheart in a bottle, yet, there is still a large part of me that is really having fun watching her learn and grow.  There is no way I would want to stifle that.  Watching her experience the world – seeing the world through her eyes – is simply amazing.  It gives me a glimpse as to why God is so thrilled to have us in His life.

I have never loved anyone like I love her.  I have never experienced this kind of love in my life.  Sometimes it is simply overwhelming.  I cannot contain it in my heart.  My Mom tried to explain it to me when I was too busy to listen and too concerned with pushing her out of my life – I just didn’t get it.  It would be nice if my Mom were still alive, I’d love to tell her that I get it now.

I’d love to ask my Mom how she learned to cope with my stubborn independence.  I’d love to ask her how she learned to let go and let me grow up.  I’d love for her to know that I get it now – and I’d like to say thank you.  I’d like to say, I love you too Mom – in a way that I’ve never felt before.

What a great gift we’ve been given.  This little Darling Daughter is the most wonderful thing ever.

I continue to pray that I raise her in a way that she continues to blossom – and that I learn how to get out of the way, when the time comes.

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