Last week, Candy and I had a double date with my almost 20 year old daughter and her boyfriend. In our neighboring town of Poulsbo, we enjoyed dinner at an Italian restaurant, strolling the main strip, and then finishing with some sweet pastries at Sluys Bakery. It was cool. It was fun. It was…normal. Ashley and I have been going on dates for many years. Why should we stop now?
Three Pink Tutu’s
Many years ago, all three of my girls were in ballet. Not soccer. Not basketball. Not tee-ball. Ballet! Honestly, I really struggled with this. One time on vacation, I was golfing with my brother, Bobby, and my brother-in-law, Jeff. On the back nine the conversation turned to our kids. Bobby and Jeff started talking about their boys playing football, teaching them how to throw a curve ball, and how much fun it was coaching them in sports. I walked along with a pit in my stomach. I finally said, “We just bought three new pink tutu’s!” They just looked at me.
I had a decision to make. Was I going to engage with my girls regardless of their lack of involvement with things I know and enjoy? After adjusting my expectations, I gave up my dreams of showing them how to throw a curve ball or football spiral and fully dove into ballet shoes, girly outfits, and recitals. I chose to be their dad no matter how they were bent.
The title of “father” comes with a measure of influence. But I’ve always wanted more than a title. I wanted to have significant influence. This must be earned. This requires time. This takes ice cream dates, reading stories on their bed, bike rides along with tickling, snuggling, and praying with them.
In time, one will most likely have earned the right to have influence with bigger issues in their lives. Issues like boys, friends, boys, entertainment choices, and boys.
Who’s the Man?
There is coming a day when I will walk each of my girls down the aisle, take their hand and place it in the arm of the groom. This will be a significant moment in the wedding ceremony. This will be the moment when I will drop to #2 in the rankings and she will have a new #1 man in her life. I’m ok with this. Why? Because I will have worked very hard at being the #1 man in her life up until that moment. That’s all I can ask for. That’s what she should expect from me.
So, who’s the #1 man in your daughters life? Is it her boyfriend, teacher, coach, or friend? Does she even want you to hold that position? Do you want to put the necessary time and effort to claim that position?
Joining the Journey
On our double date, my wife and I thanked our daughter and her boyfriend for honoring God, us, and each other in their relationship. We thanked them for allowing us the opportunity to join them on their journey that is heading in a serious direction. They allowed us to offer advice and share our heart for their path ahead. What an honor!
As we sat there, I couldn’t help but reminisce about one of my first dates with Ashley. She was 4 years old having breakfast with me at a McDonalds. I was so thankful we have memory built upon memory together. The day I slip to #2 is approaching fast. I’ve spent the past 20 years preparing for it.
PS: For what it is worth, all three of my daughters can throw a sweet football spiral!