Fathers and Daughters


I called him up on the phone.

Me: Hey Dad.

Dad: Well, hello. How’s it goin’?

Me: OK. It’s been crazy as usual. Umm, do you think you can come down and help me move this week? 

Dad: Well, sure when do you need me?

I was 39. This was a month ago after my husband served me with divorce papers.

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He was sitting in the rocking chair in the living room. I curled up in a ball on his lap with my head on his chest and my arms around his neck.

Me: Dad will you rock me?

Dad: Well, ok. (with a slight chuckle) What’s goin’ on? What’s wrong?

Me: I’m just really sad.

Dad: Well that’s ok. (putting his arms around me) We all get really sad sometimes.

I was 22. In college when I was having a hard time in school.

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We were standing outside in the yard staring at the family car I had just totaled because I fell asleep at the wheel driving, after he told me if I was too tired to drive that I should pull over.

Me: Oh Dad! I’m sorry! Mom is going to be so mad at me.

Dad: Amy. It’s just a car. We can get a new one. It doesn’t mean anything. The important thing is is that you are ok.

I was 16. I was driving home from taking my college placement tests.

**************************************************************************************

I could go on and on with stories of our interactions. But I don’t want to mislead you. Because as a daughter I have disappointed my father, as all children do. I am a sinner and far from saint. Many of those stories are far too personal. But regardless of what ‘stage’ I was going through in my life or what ‘dead beat’ I brought home, I was still his little girl.

I guess my point is that no matter how old I am, no matter what kind of trouble I am in, I can still go to him when I need help or need comfort or need advise or just need to be rocked.  

The very first time I met Randy Elrod, I told him that my father was the best example of Christ’s love that I knew.  He was surprised that I said that and thought that was so refreshing because you just don’t hear that anymore. But to me, it was normal. It was just what I knew. I didn’t appreciate it growing up. As I got older I’m sure I took advantage of it.

It was not until I had my daughter did I realize that how important that bond really is.  When I was in the hospital on bed rest, I remember my mother-in-law arguing with me about how I intended to raise my daughter. (Yes, odd that I’m in the hospital in critical condition and she is fighting with me.) I remember telling her that I wanted my daughter to fall in love with my husband. He should be her first ‘romance’, because he would then set the standard for all other men to follow.  

The love and respect that a father shows his daughter, and also shows his wife, is so integral to her emotional and mental development.  The way a child will handle adult conflict, relationships, stress, etc is largely formed in the first 8 years. They don’t call them the formative years for nothing.  But there is an even greater stage of imprinting, for lack of a better word, that occurs in the first 4 years of life.  I’m sure there are arguments for and against all of these theories of childhood development and the development of the psyche and how we learn to love.

I’m not a trained professional. But I have talked to a couple of them since my husband took to cursing out the children as an acceptable form of communication at the age of 2. When we were living with him and he would scream and cuss at her and she would run to me and cry. My dear Jacob would just turn inward and shut down; you could see it in his eyes. My heart would break.  But it also broke the first three days in the new house, when Emma had sleepless nights and fits of crying, “I want my daddy to come live with us.”  She just didn’t understand.  Now, they both just get upset if they haven’t seen him in a couple of days.

And now, now… This past week he tells me that he is moving to Hungary. Yes, the country. He’ll be gone for four years. For four years he will see his kids a week at Christmas, a week at Spring Break and 2 weeks during the summer.  They will not know their father.

How will they ever experience that unconditional, unwavering love from a father that is so integral for them to be whole?

I pray about this often and the only thing I can do is ask God to help me love like that, help me show them love the way my father showed me, the way that Christ shows me.  I often fail, but I keep asking.

 

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3 thoughts on “Fathers and Daughters

  1. Your father sounds like quite a remarkable man. How wonderful that you have such a close relationship.

    While I know it’s difficult to think of your kids and how they won’t know their father for the next few years, I also know you’ll do your best by them. You seem like such a strong woman, and they’ll learn so many things from you, from your example.

    Of course it won’t be the same as the relationship you have with your dad, but years from now, they’ll speak of you the way you speak of him.

  2. Thank you for this post. It inspired me to write about my dad. I know things seem weird and hard, difficult and awkward right now. I wish I could say that everything will work out okay and get better. But I can’t.

    I’ve been working on being a single mom for the last seven years. And every time I think I’ve figured out a way to successfully deal with life and co-parenting, I’m proved wrong. I’ve asked God so many times to take away this constant frustration and disappointment with my ex, but it’s always there. There’s no escape except through Christ.

    Sometimes I think my hope in Christ is the only thing that allows me to function as a normal healthy adult in this world. Sometimes, I think that by the time I’m in a place where I feel so good and so safe to ask God “What was THAT all about back then?” That by that time I won’t even care anymore.

    So, if I can offer up any encouragement at all, it is to feel safe that God’s got your back and your kid’s and even though it sucks right now, He has a plan and unlike some people, He won’t let you down or abandon you. 😀

  3. Dear one,
    I just don’t have the words…I wish I could offer a fix it solution but I can’t. Sounds like you have a wonderful support system in place with your family! Remember that God the Father is a Father to the fatherless. He is enough to meet all your needs…keep walking with Him, clinging to Him…praying for you!! Love and prayers, Kari

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