always being on. hilarious. nerve-wracking. being tired all the time. the reality that sick days aren't nearly as relaxing as they used to be. fascinating. choosing to engage no matter how hard, long, or frustrating the day has been. noisy. eye-opening. an immense privilege. heart-opening. another reason to pray...a lot. holy.
Fatherhood is trying as hard as you possibly can at something and still never being sure you're getting it right.
But it's full of these moments that seem so simple, moments that would likely wind up on the cutting room floor of any sappy movie's musical montage. But they're moments when your heart gets so full that time seems to stand still as you desperately try to record it's nuances in the part of your mind that battles with the broken world around us by holding on to all the heaven we get to glimpse on earth.
Today, in the middle of lunch Ellis spontaneously gave me a hug and said, “I love you, Daddy.” Sure, it was nearly unintelligible, but she said it.
Tonight at dinner we enjoyed a childhood-meal-of-dreams: hot dogs, peaches, baked beans, strawberries, and cookies. At some point Finnden decided his half-eaten strawberry was a volcano that was spewing "hot wava" in my face. Ellis squealed with delight and joined the game, each of them taking turns pointing their strawberry halves at me and making noises that sounded more like a laser battle than a volcano eruption. I made sure they got a good reaction out of me each time, and they giggled until tears were streaming down their faces.
Last night after church there were fireworks around the lake. It was a perfect summer night—seventy-five degrees or so, a nice breeze, just a few clouds in the sky to catch the colors of the setting sun, and the buzz of a mosquito or two just to remind us that Adam and Eve really did wreck everything. Karen, the kids, and I sat on a blanket right at the lake's edge as we waited for the sun to set and the show to begin. Finnden helped us keep time by asking every 30-seconds if the show was about to start. Suddenly the night erupted into booms, sizzles, colors, and light. Halfway through the show I leaned back and propped myself up on my elbows. Within a minute or two both kids had leaned back against my chest, perfectly content. Moments like these—the almost unnoticeable weight of their tiny heads against my chest, the sparkles reflecting in their eyes, their little gasps at the biggest of the booms—they are simply amazing and amazing in their simplicity.
My life is filled with more of these kinds of moments than I could ever have hoped for due to those two little ones. And these kinds of moments happen every single day. Some of them are as full of frustration as these are of joy, but for all the work it is being a dad—and even with all the self-doubt I often feel—I love it.
I love seeing their eyes light up in ways I never expected. I love finding the things they find funny. I love gazing into the mystery of them being a little bit me and entirely distinct people altogether. I love that they help me discover wonder in places where I stopped looking a long time ago. I love that they fill up my time, my thoughts, and my heart as much as they do. I love each of them. I love being a dad.
Fatherhood is a gift.