👨‍🍼 Sometimes, a dad has to find his in between


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Am I doing this right?

I really don’t know. What’s a dad supposed to do when he raises his girls to be strong, independent, decisive yet kind, compassionate, but at the same time calm-natured, and courageous enough to actually spread her wings and fly?

And then she does fly.

Or, she will. All the way to California. A 40-hour car ride you’ll take with her, your oldest girl, the first you fathered and coached. The girl you helped find that college home she wanted – just a place in the mountains where I can play soccer, she said.

She thanked me once for supporting her and her sisters through all their endeavors.

That’s much easier when that involves auditioning for the school play or signing a letter of intent to play soccer at Warren Wilson. But sometimes that support comes in the form of watching her craft her own life, not as your kid, but as her own woman.

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Madison, me, Hayden, Camdyn, and Sutton at Reedy Creek disc golf course.

Dull pain at 4 a.m.

I ask if I’m doing this right because it never feels right.

When I feel pride in her ambition and peace with her happiness, I feel like I should be hanging on more tightly. Expressing that dull pain inside I feel when I wake at 4 a.m. worried about her choice, worried about the drive, worried about the distance. 

And when I do that, when I have to catch my own breath at the thought of my girl being all the way on the other side of the Rockies, it feels selfish and paralyzing.

You can’t hold her back. You can’t stand in her way, because you’ll just become a speedbump she’ll resent for trying. And what if she said, ‘okay, dad. I won’t go,’ and you have to think about all the happiness she felt about going, about having a new life?

I can see it already.

I can see her ideals and ambitions becoming her own. As she’s growing further from the little girl I raised, the young woman. She has a home and her own cat and a job, school to go to, plans to formulate. I did that too. I had my moments just as she is.

I don’t think my parents struggled with it as I did.

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Camdyn caught three fish on Father’s Day. That’s Madison in the background.

Moments of bliss

Father’s Day always carries a pall for me. I remember my own dad not being here, but the thought of my three girls who made this day necessary fills my heart back up again. We had an incredible day together, and I felt moments of bliss I can’t even express.

We had brunch and played disc golf.

We talked and we laughed. We tried to squeeze in as much as we could in a day. One of her friends celebrated Father’s Day with us, and it meant so much to me that she’d be here, with us. Madison made me a steak and all my girls helped me destroy it.

While fishing at dusk, I found myself living a metaphor.

Hayden and Camdyn fished on my left, close together. Madison and Sutton drifted to my right. They move so far along the lakeshore that I couldn’t tell if they were smiling. So I moved. I looked back at my other girls and didn’t want to stray too far.

So I found a spot, right in the middle, and stopped.

I could hear the younger girls’ music, watch Madison and Sutton standing together, closely. I could get to either one to bait a hook or free a fish. And none of them felt close enough to touch, but I was where I needed to be. In between them all.

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Bach quote fatherhood

12 thoughts on “👨‍🍼 Sometimes, a dad has to find his in between

  1. happy Father’s Day, Eli. I know exactly what you are describing, having raised 3 girls as a single mother. it is the ongoing tug and pull and it is important to let them go to explore and live in the world, knowing they’ll always come back to ‘home.’

    1. Thanks, beth! I know you know. Outwardly, it’s been all support and encouragement … and I’m planning on making plenty of trips. She said she’d have a room for me! But yes … she can always come back ‘home.’

  2. What a great Father’s Day. The thought of our kids going off on their own is such a whirlwind of emotions, isn’t it? One the one hand, I can’t wait for my son to become independent, to do his thing without my checking and prompting. On the other hand, I dread the day he doesn’t come loping down the stairs ready to give his old mom a big hug. Our Father’s Day was very subdued – no cookout or BBQ as usual – because my husband was prepping for his colonoscopy. Not very sexy, I know. Clear liquid diet all day. But afterward, I’ll be getting his favorite take out to celebrate late.

    1. I loved it, Susan. It is emotional, and I tried not to think that it might be a while before we’re all together for Father’s Day. I have seen Madison forge her own life for a while now, and I know I’m still a part of it, but she’s moving on!

      Wishing you the best for your husband and saluting a great dad.

  3. Happy Father’s Day, It sounds like it was a good one.

    As you’re probably aware two of my boys live a significant distance away. Although I miss seeing them in person, there are SO many ways now to stay in touch. And during the quarantine one of the boys made the effort to organize almost-weekly family Zoom calls, a habit that I hope will continue long after life gets back to normal.

    And, tell Camdyn her Cardinals shirt rocks 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kathy! I do know about your boys. I plan on taking lots of trips out there – and I could even stay and work there for a week if they can tolerate me! Camdyn snagged that T-shirt from my drawer – they often do that!

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