It’s a lousy title. I’m better than that, but when it comes to these “live out loud” moments – things I don’t do often, but sometimes – I don’t often care about headlines. I’m not really looking to grab attention, or make a splash. Usually, no – ALWAYS – I’m really writing to connect with one person in mind. This particular person, more than perhaps all others, is one I’ve connected with via this vehicle – namely, writing!
A week or so ago I released a podcast over at Bula Network, my “professional” hangout. It was titled, “Have You Said It Out Loud?” You can hit PLAY if you want. I don’t much care either way to tell you the truth. But the point today is there are things we all need to say out loud – while we can.
There are other things that repel me about saying it out loud. Like Facebook, for instance. And all the ridiculous cries for attention and “look at me, look at me” behaviors I see every single day. Some people seem determined to make me watch the movie that is their life. No thanks. I have my own life. My own movie. And you’d be shocked at how little interest I sometimes have in my own movie. So pardon me if I don’t care about who your “sweetie” is or who you “can’t wait to see.” Many of us are nauseated by it. The “Can’t Get Enough Attention” Ninnies wear on many of us. I am, after all, TGR. (Ask around. I did NOT give myself that title or position. It was thrust upon me. I do, however, wear it proudly, in my fight against all idiocy. There is much to fight.)
Well, today it’s my turn to post something meaningful to me. About a person meaningful to me. I can tell her privately – and I do – how I feel. But this is admittedly living life out loud just to make certain she has record of the facts. If I did it all the time, every day, over every trivial piece of social media real estate offered by the web…well, it wouldn’t likely mean much. But I don’t. In fact, I can count on one hand the times I’ve done this – written something for public consumption about her. She’s been alive 28 years. I don’t think I’ve over done it. Besides, you can just hit that browser button and get out of here if you want. I’ll understand. I didn’t write this for you anyway.
Okay, I think I’ve sufficiently cleared the decks, expressed a few frustrations and even poured out a bit of rage against the Facebook machine. So, it’s time to wax sentimental.
And that’s not hard for me. By nature I’m quite sentimental. You may not know that. But I suspect some do. Renae knows. And today, that’s all that matters.
Here we are. I’m now 53. In the winter she’ll turn 29. We’ve both come a long way since the day of her birth in 1981. Edmond, Oklahoma seems like a lifetime ago. A lot has changed. Edwin Morris left the planet. Others have joined him. Two little boys now walk the planet. I suspect Edwin would have enjoyed seeing the little girl who sat in front of him for years, mothering two little people all her own.
The place of her birth was among the most difficult places for me to leave. But life moves on. We turn pages. Clinging to memories of good times. Minimizing the hard, tough times. Faster than any hard drive, we can summons up data from our memories banks in vivid details of by gone days. It’s a blessing.
I’m unsure what fathers expect of their children when it comes to parenting ability or styles. My parents always felt Rhonda and I were too hard in our parenting. I quickly realized they simply had a different view. The view of grandparents. It’s different. Their leniency of my children wasn’t doled out during my childhood. And for good reason. Training requires a multi-faceted approach. Sometimes a heavy hand. Sometimes not. Sometimes a stern talk. Sometimes more subtle. Grandparents, I can now attest, have the freedom parents don’t. It’s as God designed it. And it’s a good thing. For children, parents and grandparents.
A new role arrived in my life – just another slash behind my name – when Max was born. Again when Jake was born. The approved title, “Papa.” I wear it proudly. Happily. After all, I’ve been old all my life so growing older suits me just fine.
A subject for which I am utterly unqualified to speak. And you know that’s not about to stop me. Especially when it comes to the motherhood of my own daughter. Admittedly, I can’t really write of it without also addressing fatherhood – and the love I have of my son-in-law, Cale. No, I’ve never written of him before so it’s about time he suffered through it. It’ll not likely become a habit, but I have jokingly told him I’d start my day by posting him a Facebook message calling him, “Sweetie.” We laugh. Quite a lot. And it’s nice. I respect him immeasurably.
I don’t know that it ever crossed my mind, “What kind of mother will Renae be?”
I do know it was never a concern. Never, ever have I worried, or fretted, that perhaps motherhood would not suit her. Her competence has simply never been called into question by me. Renae has never been “daddy’s little princess.” One, she never manipulated me. She couldn’t. I’m smarter than that. And so is she. Two, she never sought attention by feigning weakness or helplessness, as is often the case with “little princesses.” She was strong, determined, capable. I’ve never seen her any other way. At anything.
Motherhood is no different.
I’m around her enough to know. I see her kneel down, get eyeball to eyeball and sternly tell her boys how it’ll have to be. Hello, Pot. Meet Kettle. I know that look. I know that tone. I know that determination to train a child.
I also see the knowledge – in both she and Cale – that when children are small, it’s all about imposing your will so these little people learn proper behavior. Few parents get that. Even fewer seem to love their children enough to follow the Bible pattern of proper discipline and training. I don’t see that missing in the life of my kids. I’m thankful. Souls are the most valuable thing that will ever be entrusted to us. It’s urgent we make the most of it. It’s vital that we not let these souls slip through our hands due to neglect, pride, arrogance or any other poor emotion. Every parent simply must step up to the task and complete it successfully. Or die trying.
Compassion. Disciple. Consistency. I see these necessary components in the parent that is my daughter. Like all parents she has tough days. There are days when tears come easy. There are days when smiles are few. But there are days when laughter is frequent. And peaceful sleep can happen in the middle of a lazy afternoon. Only to be erupted by the chaos of an early evening commotion that feels like it just won’t end.
The up’s and down’s of parenting are best endured by the young. Renae understands that now better than ever. Imagine how exhausted you’d be if you weren’t almost 29? The Lord intended young people to raise up little people. Old people are there to help both of them along. I hope to pull my weight.
So, here I am on my birthday – a few days before Mother’s Day. I want to wish my mother, my wife, but most especially my daughter – happy Mother’s Day. Two of them have pretty much completed the heavy lifting part of their work as moms. Renae is smack dab in the middle of it, just now getting her strength for the long stretch ahead. Some days wondering if she’ll survive it. Most days not even really knowing how – just knowing the task must be done. If it must be done, Renae knows it must be done well.
In about 6 months she’ll turn 29. Before she knows it, Max will be off to school, and that’ll change everything. Jake will be out of diapers. And that’ll change everything. Seemingly small feats will be monumental in how they affect the changes in her home. And in how she’ll have to adapt to fill the needs of a maturing family. The skills she needs today will still be needed, and others she knows nothing about – yet. She’ll keep learning that sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield. She’ll learn to enjoy the windshield days.
I don’t doubt her. I’ve never doubted her. Whatever life throws at her, she’ll find a way through it because she’s got God, Cale and the rest of us who love her. Her support system has never been larger – or stronger! She knows it. I hope it propels her with confidence to keep doing the heavy lifting that all moms do with little children.
The children aren’t the only ones learning, maturing and growing. Moms all over the world are taxed to keep up. Even to forge ahead. I’m proud to say that a little girl who sat on the second pew at Edmond, Oklahoma – the city of her birth – now resides 2 miles from me in Bedford, Texas with two little boys of her own. It seems fitting that the little girl who wrestled her brother’s friends would be blessed with two boys – not girls. God gives us what we need. She needed boys. Her boys need her. We all need her.
And she’s up for it all, because she knows I’m here to help. It’s my job. I’m her dad.