Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daddy's Girl

I have so many memories wrapped up in this holiday of Father’s Day. It’s a struggle to work out my emotions as we prepare to head out to the zoo today. Despite the fact that this was my dad’s annual tradition, it is still the way my husband desires to spend this holiday. I no longer attend the zoo to honor my dad but the memories still flood my mind and I am certain my emotions will get the best of me at some moment today.

Anytime we would go to the zoo, amusement park or county fair as a family, my mom and dad would hold hands. While there is such a treasure in reminiscing with the knowledge that my parents loved one another, there is another part of this memory that I cherish warmly in my heart.

Being Daddy’s little girl, I always longed to be the center of his attention, even when his attention was directed towards his wife. I was so secure in my daddy’s love that I would go up between my parents and separate their interlocked fingers until I was placed between them walking hand in hand with my daddy completely misplacing my mom. I loved walking around holding onto my daddy’s strong hand that was calloused from all his hard hours of labor in construction. This position left me feeling cherished and special. I belonged to him and it felt like a declaration that he was mine as we strolled along. Holding hands with my daddy was something I did long into high school. I was not ashamed to be seen with him. I was so very proud to be Daddy’s little girl.

There is a special bond between a little girl and her daddy. I see it now with my own daughters. Every morning, my oldest does her best to be awake in time to say goodbye to her daddy because if she is sleeping, we don’t wake her up. My husband understands the importance of the kids getting their sleep as well as the fact that I very much desire time to myself in the morning.

This past week, she came down the stairs a few minutes too late to get her goodbye hug. Walking up to me, I knew she was disappointed. “I’m sorry you missed saying goodbye to Daddy.” She responded with a shaky voice. “It’s okay. I waved goodbye to him out the window.” The torrent of tears began as she came to me for comfort. I couldn’t help but feel her disappointment and picked up the phone to call my husband who had just left a minute before. Just minutes later, he was pulling in the driveway with nothing but love and affection for his firstborn. He hugged her and assured her how important it is to him to be able to give her that morning hug goodbye.

I can’t help but think of my relationship with my own dad when I see my girls with my husband. I think there is just a natural bond between a daddy and his little girl. My girls run to the door with a shout “Daddy’s home!” at the end of every day. They love to sit and cuddle with him on Saturday mornings. Everything is more fun with daddy. They create drawings for him to take to work. It’s a special treat to ride with daddy in his car. The moments go on and on.

I remember the way I claimed the seat at the dining room table next to my dad. It did my heart good to know my dad was nearby. I loved to pick cards or create poems that would bring tears to my dad’s eyes. For me, success was in seeing his emotions revealed. Even well after I was married, my dad was a man whose approval I longed for.

Life is different now. I can no longer seek my daddy’s approval. I can no longer reach for his hand. The last time I held my dad’s hand, it was that of a man whose body was ridden with cancer. It brought memories of how very much I was his little girl. Today, as I head to the zoo, I am reminded of a moment when my little girl held her papa’s strong hand and my heart misses those memories and cries for the loss of opportunities for any more to be created.

Although I know it is my hand that belongs in my husband’s hand, I can now understand why my mom allowed me to break up the moment she shared with my dad. A mother wants her daughters to have a special bond with their daddy. I think it is one pathway to a relationship much more important. A little girl’s view of God can be deeply rooted in her view of her earthly father. That’s where I seek my approval now. It’s where I should have sought approval all along. It was a good place for me to start, though, with the daddy God gave me. And I am comforted when I watch my girls with their daddy. God our Father is so much sweeter when our hearts are fond of the daddy he gave us.

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