Let him be her dad. It is a lesson I have to relearn often because dads are imperfect. It’s really easy from the outside to see how I might have handled things differently, but he needs the freedom to be who God made him to be. God gave each of us the perfectly imperfect parents we were meant to have.
To let him be her dad, I had to learn humility and my Heavenly Father’s perspective.
On this Father’s Day, I spent a lot of time thinking about my dad, my step-father-in-law, my father-in-law and my daughter’s father. Each of these men did things differently, wonderfully, imperfectly. But each were great dads.
My husband’s role as a father started young. He was already a dad at the same age his boys are today. And his role as a father had many pause buttons due to his service time, except you can’t pause kids. He still feels cheated for all the moments he has missed in his children’s lives.
My husband spent much of our daughter’s first year in Iraq, from just days after we finalized her adoption until after she turned 15 months old.
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I was her everything for that year. We had brief periods of visiting family, but very few and far between. It was the all-mommy-show, all the time. It was hard in many ways, but it was also easy because I didn’t have to compromise, I could do everything my way.
I didn’t have to be a wife. I just had to be the mommy.
Then he came home: a bit lost in this new little-girl-land after two boys. He almost didn’t know how to be with her, this tiny, willful stranger. It was hard, his learning to fit in with us, us learning to let him back in.
This adjusting is part of the returning from war people don’t really understand, the reintegrating after the reuniting.Adjusting as a family after he came home from war, meant learning to let him be her dad. Click To Tweet
I had to learn how to share her, how to share him, how to let him find his own way with her.
We had to find our family normal again.
One of the lessons that I had to learn was to let him be her dad. He is going to do things I never would. He is going to tickle her until she screams and throw her too high in the air, and give her ice cream for dinner. He is going to discipline her when I just want to wipe her tears.
Where I’m all poses and perfect smiles, he will make silly faces in pictures with her and kiss her cheeks until he leaves whisker burn because she loves his “grouchy whispers.” Someday, she will associate manhood with the way his cologne smells, like I do with my dad’s Old Spice.
He will define manhood for her in many ways by who he is.
He lets her style his hair with a penguin and wears her jewelry. When she hides under the covers, he pretends he doesn’t see her and hysteria ensues.
She held a kite soaring magically through the sky for the first time with him. They have daddy-daughter dates to fly kites and go fishing. He holds her hand at the beach.
He teaches her to take life less seriously, catch a bass, identify a bird as it flies overhead. He will be a window into a different world than mine.
My world is full of books and words, emotions and communication, dresses and bows, learning and education. It’s a good world, but it isn’t the only world. His world is full of animals, dirt, bugs, cooking, living outdoors, patriotism and honor.
And she needs them both, like she needs us both.
I need to love and respect him, let him be her dad, so they can continue to learn together this father/daughter mystery. I want her to look up to her first superhero, to see his gentleness and intelligence, his bravery and creativity, enjoy listening to his stories and learn to take directions.
It’s easy to see the ways she fits with me so perfectly. But while I see the stark differences between her father and I, I recognize how perfectly God planned her family so that she would have the best of us both.
Now, if I can just relax, close my eyes, and let him be her dad, frogs, mud, and all.