“Children are a gift from the Lord…” Psalm 127:3a NLT
“Oh my son’s my son till he gets him a wife,
But my daughter’s my daughter all her life.”
Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
Today is my daughter’s birthday.
There are only fleeting glimpses of her in the preceding pages of these “Chronicles”. Understandably, her privacy is important to her. It can be safely said that this ‘experience’ has put a strain on our relationship. Unfortunately, it was a relationship that was already strained to excess for reasons that are too complex – to say nothing of too private – to go into in a public forum such as this.
These words are not directed at my daughter, even though it is HER birthday which has prompted them. Indeed, she does not read anything that is contained herein. At least, not that I am aware of. In fact, from the beginning, she was very much opposed to the whole concept of her father putting himself before the public in this manner.
I did not proceed with the “Chronicles” in general, and this ‘project’ in particular, to do her harm. The truth is, I do not care to be the center of attention, so putting myself ‘out there’ where anyone could find me and for all to see (those who care to look, anyway) was, in the beginning, quite uncomfortable for me. Still is.
So what do I hope to accomplish with the words that I offer now for consideration by anyone willing to take the time to read them? Why Bother?
It is BECAUSE I love my daughter with an intensity that she may never completely understand, but which is there – and has been from the day she was born, despite the fact that my actions have done little to demonstrate that love.
It is this love that provides me with the strength, the courage, and the desire to reach out to OTHER fathers who also love THEIR daughters but, like myself, insist on doing the same immature, irresponsible, reprehensible, insensitive, and immoral things that I did. Things which have necessitated spending the last four of my daughter’s birthdays in prison.
Fathers should be pillars of strength for their daughters. We should be beyond reproach. Our character should be as solid as granite, and our integrity, maturity, morality, and our reliability should be totally devoid of doubt or question in the eyes of our entire families, but especially in the eyes of our daughters.
WHAT, dear God, was I thinking?
I recognize that I have a formidable task ahead of me to erase the pain that my thoughtlessness has placed in my daughter’s heart. It is my hope, and my prayer, that ANY man reading these words, who also has a daughter, will take the time to consider the full impact his actions could have on his life, and the lives of those around him. Especially on the life of his daughter, and his relationship WITH her.
And so I ask you, God, to help us ALL regain our sanity, and our decency, before it is lost to us forever. Please let my words reach just ONE unthinking individual and help keep THAT someone’s daughter from experiencing the pain and disappointment that I have brought to mine.
I wrote a poem for my daughter’s birthday. I would like to share it with you.
“THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER”
The first day of summer is different for me
Than it is for many of you.
It’s not just the start of a season, you see,
But the day that my child was first due.
The day she arrived wasn’t June Twenty One,
But it was special to me just the same.
You see, “The First Day Of Summer” was the day she was born,
Because ‘Summer’ is my daughter’s name.
She has a heart full of warmth and a smile like the sun,
Just what you’d expect from the season.
“The First Day Of Summer” was the day she was born,
And the first day my life had a reason.
We must all remember that some things, once done, cannot be undone. Not completely anyway. I hope that someone learns from my thoughtlessness that it is not enough ‘just’ to love someone. The way we live our life has to SHOW it – each and every day.
I believe that God will help me to replace the pain and disappointment in Summer’s heart with trust, respect, and love. This I pray for daily. I also pray that you don’t put YOURSELF in a position where you need to ask God to help YOU do the same thing.
Life is too short to hurt those we bring into this world.
Especially our daughters.
God bless you all, and “Happy Birthday, Summer!”