Today, my daughter turned 13. It is difficult to imagine that 13 years ago I become a father for the very first time. Like most of us that have had children, we remember that 1st day, that 1st moment.
She was so tiny. My wife used to say she wasn’t a football. She was always accusing me of holding her just like I would hold a football. I would always tell her not to worry. I have never fumbled in my life. (Thankfully the wife didn’t understand that offensive linemen weren’t supposed to handle the football). I knew from the moment I first saw her, I would love her all the days of my life. She was mine and all that I had and all that I am would go into raising her, loving her, teaching her, providing for her and helping her grow up to be a worthy woman.
This meant that I had a lot of changing to do. I had things I had to do differently in my life. If I was going to always be there for her, I needed to make those changes. If I was going to be the best dad I can be, I needed to grow up in a hurry. Regretfully, I failed in many ways over these last 15 years. And, as I woke up this morning I was hit with the cold hard reality of my daughter becoming a teenager. I moved out of my mom and dad’s at 17 and headed off to college (I turned 18 about a month later). My daughter has less than 5 years left in my home. My daughter has less than 5 years of waking up just a bedroom away. I have less than 5 years to shape her, mold her, and help her along. And I know that coming real soon, I no longer will be the man in her life. Someone else will fill that role. Someone else will be helping to shape her, take care of her, love her, and provide for her. A cold hard sweat came over me. I was running out of time.
We are only given a few years on this earth to shape our children into the people they ultimately will be. For a child 18-20 years seems like an eternity. I now understand what my parents met when they said you will blink and it will all be over. I cannot waste a single moment. We really cannot afford to.
I know that so far, things are on the right track. My daughter knows how to change a diaper. She can cook food that is not just edible, but quite tasty. A couple of years ago she chose to put on Christ in baptism. For the last year she has been looking for different ways to serve the church. (She cleans the building, helps with the Lord’s Supper, and has been hounding me to teach a class). Is she perfect? No. I am not that parent that sees his daughter with rose colored glasses on. But, I am that parent that sees his daughter for what she really is. She is no longer a little girl. She is no longer my baby. She is becoming a young woman… a worthy woman.