Last weekend, I did it. I know, moms will read posts like this and shake their heads. Why do fathers feel such a sense of accomplishment for doing what moms do on a daily basis? Yet there it is, the feeling that I’ve just accomplished something pretty cool. My wife was able to attend a Women’s retreat in another state for a few days, and I was able to keep the kids alive – and have a bit of fun doing it.
Sure, there were moments. Toward the end of a naptime, I walked into the room our oldest daughter was resting in. As I entered the room, I looked down to see a pile of blond hair on the floor next to a pair of scissors. I froze. In that moment, I knew something terrible had happened. I looked over to see my daughter, looking sheepishly as she realized what I’d noticed.
“What happened here?” I said, trying to stay calm as a father.
“I…..cut my hair?” She responded, wavering between shame and curiously creative confidence. She knows daddy loves creativity and fun, but also knows daddy is pretty big on boundaries at times. You could tell she was wondering which side of daddy she was about to experience.
I took a few large, slow breaths, and realized this was “one of those moments” where a parent gets to actually put into practice some of the skills we try to allow Jesus to grow in our lives. There are times we drift through parenting, kind of on auto-pilot. The kids are hungry, we feed them. Someone wants a hug or a cuddle, and we hold them close. They fall down, we help them up. The responses to what happens are often a natural reaction to who they are, who we are, and what is going on. But here was a moment I’d not been wired to have a specific response for. My 6 year old daughter decided to give herself a new hairstyle, while my wife was out of town, and my role of “father” felt like it had experienced a bit of humility.
And so, I invited her to sit on my lap for a bit and we talked. I asked her why she wanted to cut her hair, hoping we’d get into some deep conversation about how she looks and I could reinforce how beautiful she is already. Her response was simply, “I…wanted to cut my hair.” Surely if I asked again, she’d tell me more. So I asked. Her response came again, “I don’t know. I just wanted to cut it.”
I knew there had to be some sort of consequence, and so she lost a privilege she’d been looking forward to. But there were no tears this time, simply a nod of understanding she’d gone outside of the boundaries. We spent a while coloring pictures, and changing the hairstyles of our drawings, as I pointed out how much safer it was to change a cartoon hairstyle – because it can grow back or be re-done easily.
2 Corinthians 6:18 says, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” I’m sure there have been plenty of times where I’ve expressed my creative desire for life in ways that God wasn’t a fan of. I’m comforted by the fact that He continues to be there with me as a father would, correcting my behavior, and encouraging me in a right direction. This “act” called parenting continues to reveal to me new facets and experiences of His Love…and I’m thankful for these. I continue to believe and testify to the fact that God is not simply calling us to “keep our kids alive”, or even to “raise our children incredibly well” as our primary goal…but that this whole journey is just as transforming to us as parents, as it is for our children.
Oh….and just for fun, I sent the above picture to my wife out of state. After all, what else would fill her with confidence that I’ve got everything under control???