Monday, January 25, 2016

Because growing up means letting go....

“Yes, I am happy about it.”

Really I am.  

It’s my best answer for when people ask me my feelings about our first born’s engagement to be married.  Yep... I am happy about it.  It’s true.

Am I ecstatic?  No.  Is she?  Yes.  Am I worried?  No.  Am I nervous?  Nope.  Will I cry at the wedding? Yes.  Will it likely be a big ugly cry?  Yes, again.  Do I like my future son-in-law?  Yes (but I doubt I’ll call him that as our family doesn’t do the ‘in-law’ tag thing).  But, yes, I do like him, a lot actually.

Still, when I get the question about my girl getting married - now even a month later - I have found that my answer remains the same, “Yes, I am happy about it.”  I am.  It is a true and honest answer, but it is also one that comes with a void.  That void is the unsatisfied wonder if that person across from me that is asking the question ‘get’s it.’  In other words, do they really understand what they are asking of me?  Do they understand that their question, that while genuine and not inaccurate, is incomplete? 

With my reply, I am always left walking away unfulfilled as their well-meaning question simply lacks a depth beyond their possible knowledge of a precious area in my life of which they are inquiring about.  I always walk away believing that the 'ask-er' just really doesn’t know the ‘ask-ee’ what they are asking.  Kind of like their context in framing their question cannot fit the context of me answering it.  Or, like a movie reporter interviewing a film’s actor before even seeing the film.  Or, similar to asking someone to draw a round square.  The terms just don’t compute.

I don’t mean the above to be haughty or negative in the way it sounds.  I really don’t, but still my unrequited hopes remain unrequited.  Yes, I fully know that I am not alone in this parent department too.  As such, after the first question, it is common for some to say (or “remind me” - yes, quotations intentional) something like, “You know you aren't the first dad to ever have to go through this,” or “Well, you know they do actually grow up eventually Papa.”  Or, let’s not forget my favorite of “You do want grandkids someday don’t you??”  (Of which my first thought is always, “Not today!!!”)  Alas, with each passing comment, my head will nod with a yes, I will smirk or do a chuckle, and I will often give a stunted smile.  This is when my hopes will begin to rise with anticipation thinking that “maybe he will get it?” or “maybe she’ll understand?”  But, nonetheless, they keep talking and then those hopes quickly get dashed time and time again.

No one seems to get how I really feel about it and I have learned that no one will.  Nor should they.  It isn’t their fault.  It’s mine.  I get that.

Like the countless fathers before me seeing the absolute joy on their daughter’s face when she's showing off her engagement ring to everyone, I have come to learn that the world just won’t get the father’s take on the whole thing.  And vice versa, it would be wrong for me to begin to think that I could fully understand what other dads are going through during a similar thing for them as well.  In the end, I have found that it is our differences that make us the same.

The thing is though... and I can’t simplify this any easier... is that I was the first guy she ever fell in love with... and I will always cherish this!  But now... she is growing up.  And growing up for her means letting go for me... even if that is into the arms of another man.

Like each of her siblings, I have loved my daughter before I had even held my daughter.  She made me a father and provided me the depth of a love ocean that only a child can give.  I can still remember holding her in my arms when she was an infant and feeling a complete peace.  I absolutely adored having her fall asleep on my chest.  I can still remember her soft baby skin, those arm folds, the sweet smell of her freshly bathed hair, and those irreplaceable deep sleeping breaths, which could only mean that she felt safe and comfortable in her father’s arms.  Those moments were simply heavenly and I hope to always remember them.

But still, they grow up... and I have to let go.

I know, I know.  I can hear you.  “You don’t hold the monopoly on all dad’s loving their kids!”  Yes, you are right, but in turn you likely don’t hold an accurate perspective of how this dad loves his kids.  So don’t be surprised if my answer to your question is as incomplete to you as your question is to me.

Nonetheless, time always wins and my Babydoll is growing up.  And yes, I am happy about it.  I find comfort knowing this step, much like her literal first steps...or like when she learned to ride a bike, or stepped on a school bus, went to prom, or drove off to college... means my role as her dad will need to change again too.  

So ask away.  Am I ready for this?  No, I am not.  But, yes, I am happy about it.


And in case you are wondering, I think William Parrish from "Meet Joe Black” ‘got it’.  
That guy knew what it was like to be a dad.

"I loved [my daughter] from the moment she was born, and I love her now and every minute in between. And what I dream of is a man who will discover her, and that she will discover a man who will love her, who is worthy of her, who is of this world, this time and has the grace, compassion, and fortitude to walk beside her as she makes her way through this beautiful thing called life.

"Love is passion. Obsession. Someone you can’t live without. Someone you fall head over heels for. Find someone you can love like crazy, and will love you the same way back. Listen to your heart. No sense in life without this. To make the journey without falling deeply in love, you haven’t lived a life at all. You have to try, because if you haven’t tried, then you haven’t lived.

“I want you to get swept away out there. I want you to levitate. I want you to sing with rapture and dance like a dervish. Be deliriously happy, 
or at least leave yourself open to be.”

"Now multiply that by infinity, take that to the depth of forever, and you still will barely have a glimpse of what I’m talking about.

William Parrish: "It’s hard to let go isn’t it?"
Joe Black: "Yes it is, Bill."
William Parrish: "Well, that’s life.