Second Letter to My Daughter
As I thumb through the photographs that I carry with me always in my briefcase, it's hard to fathom that the short haired, smiling baby holding a crawfish and wiggling its claws has turned into the beautiful goldilocks girl that demands the stage and wants so much to sing.
I feel like such a cliché-all those veteran parents telling us how quickly you would grow up, how it would be over before we know it, how we had best pay attention before it all ended.
They were right.
I can't believe you turned three.
I can't believe the seasons change so fast, the questions change so fast, though the answers seem so much alike.
I sit on airplanes and think of you often, what kind of stewardship do we offer, who truly teaches who, the empty feeling that hovers around me like a morning mist when we spend too much time apart.
I ponder the choices, the justifications, the selfishness that allows laziness to creep in, the myriad moments of ire that warrant only tenderness, the loss of control over small matters of tedium, the fragile balance between patience, guidance and the human condition that reveals its shadowy self in petty outbursts, orders and even shouting matches-the release valve that leaves ashes of hurt with little resolve.
What is my job?
Outside of protection from physical harm, I bob on this sea of life like a tiny cork in a hurricane, reaching within, seeking, trying to embrace and express, wondering how I might ever qualify to tell you or anyone how to live.
In the end, the old adage that the more we know the more we realize we don't know takes hold, anchors me to a journey of discovery and serves as a reminder that my conundrum evaporates if I focus on love, my role to baste you in it, wrap you up in a love cloud and cover you with a love blanket, that you may grow in love and let the other lessons flow to you and through you at your own pace.
This I can do, shrug off the coat of inadequacy and give you another hug, another kiss, another kind word, another minute when minutes run short, another chance, another smile, another deep breath to choke down the critic or the tyrant or the fictional pundit that so quickly jumps to judgment and wants to intervene.
No, father doesn't know best.
Father struggles to understand.
Father wrestles with his most important job.
Father tries so hard to heed his own counsel, to listen-both to the words and the unspoken, the undercurrents, the needs, the emotions that rage, then play, then rage, then rest, then come back to rage again.
Father cares-though the jumbled blend of empowerment, co-dependency, heart, guilt, duty, honor, passion and profound, profound affection sometimes do more to confuse than enlighten.
I guess we all tread the path, rain or shine, winter and summer, paved flat and mountainous, rocky trails.
Father loves you, with all my might, a job I relish.
As long as the ticker ticks, it will always tick for you.
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