Being a father blessed to still have both of my parents with me, I often find myself reflecting on my own mortality. I think about what impact have I had, am I having and will I have in the future. I’m humbled by the hypocrisy that life holds as I must reprimand my children for doing what I once did. It is a blessed burden to use your past way of thinking as a crystal ball to help your offspring navigate what is yet to come.
I’ve learned to walk in the clothing of my parent’s wisdom. I don’t know if it fit me the way they thought it did. The words of parents can save you, yet to kids seem like floatation devices that are itchy and uncomfortable. I think back to life events that felt like nuclear winter – how often my mother’s words have warmed me from the inside out. Bitter cold winds of choice or circumstance where often kept at bay by ill-fitting sweaters father spoke upon me. For the tugging at the collar or complaints about the sleeves not covering my wrist – I realize with gratitude how I was saved from frost-bite…by the words of my father.
As a man, when I speak to our daughters, I try to give them verbal jewelry no man can ever remove. Our youngest is 7, her young ears seem to hang on every word I say when she looks at me. God somehow made me worthy to speak the beauty of truth and self-confidence into a pair of ear rings I hope she’ll never want to take off.
Our 11 year old princess has exposed me to mental inquisitions more fitting for a court room than a friendly father daughter chat. As she has consistently been a straight A student, I strive to patiently give words of black cloth we can wear as she learns to make judgements better than I did. I continue educating myself for the both of us, using each response to her as a way to sharpen her mind which she will use to carve her own gavel for the world…I hope she learns to pass judgement on situations and not people.
In our 15 year old adult, God has given me a mirror more precise than any silver lined glass. There is no attitude that I have ever had, which hasn’t returned in her female rendition. I whisper 100,000 Egyptian cotton gloves upon her hands, that she may be protected while reaching for her dreams but still soften her touch as she encounters other dreamers along the way. I laugh a veil upon her head that takes the shape of a smile in the presence of enemies and shields her from the rain I’ll never see as a man.
To my 20 year old son, I sow thread into a rope that is capable of carrying his weight and long enough to throw down to those who might need to be lifted. Finer threads I’ve written for him, praying they become his shoe laces, that he might effortlessly stride over things that made me trip.
I’ve had moments when I’ve seen my children tarnish the jewelry my experience paid for and refuse the clothes I’ve gifted from a heart tailor made to fit Gods children. I somehow rest easy as I tug at the sweater my dad gave me. I know what I put in each of their closets. It’ll be there when it gets cold enough.