Well, it's finally about to happen! It took nearly 18 years of trial and error, but my daughter Heather will be graduating from High School at the end of this month....and honestly I'm at a crossroads with how I feel about that.
On one hand I know she's a smart, talented, caring, compassionate and beautiful young lady who's more than ready to face whatever challenges Life can throw at her. And God help anyone who attempts to get in her way!!
Then there's the Dad in me.
My Mom...brother John...Heather at age 14....and me at John's home in San Diego
You may know someone like him...the Dad in me...the guy who remembers our time together when her Mom was at work and it was just her and I going to the grocery store; and I'd get her giggling to the point where she'd get the hiccups. The guy who looks in the mirror every morning and wonders what happened to that Strawberry Blonde little girl who used to sing ME to sleep before I tucked her in to her crib. The Dad who remembers feeling a little put out that we were having a second child, because that meant there would be someone else in the house to distract me from the special time with my little girl.
We, like most relationships, have had our great - and our not so great - moments. Like the time when her U-14 soccer team I was coaching won their division championship, and we got to celebrate together in a big hug on the sidelines as the game game to an end. Or, on the other extreme, the moment she realized her Mom and I were not going to be able to reconcile our differences; and that I wasn't going to be a part of her day-to-day life any longer.
There's no worse feeling than knowing your child....has been disappointed by you.
We're past that now, but for a while it seemed like she really might just pull away and leave me on the sidelines of her life. I'm happy to report I'm back in the game, and I got there by doing something people just don't do enough of....I listened. I'm not perfect, but I learned THAT lesson quickly.
But above all else, I can proudly tell you something about my time as the Father of an amazing young lady as she graduates High School...something I've learned; that I know all new Fathers will eventually learn about their daughters. She will forever hold you by the heartstrings...she will always be the first and last thing you think about every day; and she will teach you what no other person on earth can: How to Love without conditions or rules.
Congratulations Heather...no Dad was ever as proud as I am of you!