Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad’s birthday. I am grateful to have him here celebrating another year of LIFE after the adventures of last summer.

I am also grateful for an entire day off (sort of) to have time to actually think and write a birthday post. Because that’s what you do when you have a blog of your own, right?

Last Father’s Day, my sister wrote this about our dad. It’s beautiful and amazing and also an example of how we had different dads  sixteen years apart. I know. Scandalous. But true.

I got the young, new, idealistic dad. With hair.

little me in the apple tree

My childhood memories include looking up at lengths of patterned polyester stretch-and-sew pants.

It was many, many moons ago. We did do fun things together, Dad comments on this picture that someone posted for a TBT on facebook.

And I believe it. We did. I remember some of them.

I remember getting ice cream in Indiana and trying to lick it into a soft serve swirl on top. I remember the Enchanted Forest, and walks collecting aluminum cans, and my first tooth being pulled in his band director office at CCA, (aka the baptistry closet?).

It was carefully placed in that spot in my Snoopy thermos where the drinking cup screwed on, for safekeeping until I got home.

I remember riding to school with him on snow days and visiting classrooms and collecting teacher cast-offs to bring home to teach my own students siblings. I remember the siblings coming, and coming, and Saturday morning cartoons and laundry and meal-planning, and sliding down the stairs in the inflatable raft.

You remember too much.

That, too.

Thinking about my childhood and relationship with my dad, many stories come to mind, illustrating our dynamic. They show the dance that was ours that we didn’t even understand at the time.

dancing with dad

One such story involves shopping for shoes. I want to put myself at ten or eleven, so I will say I was somewhere in between. Like this child.

Coco

I needed new shoes, and Dad took me out to Prince George’s Plaza. Or maybe he didn’t. Maybe it was to the shoe store in Riverdale Plaza. Memory is fiction, you know. He took me out to buy a pair of shoes. I do know that for a fact.

Our family didn’t have lots of money, and as a general rule, we got what we needed. No frills. Unless you were shopping with Dad. Then there was at least the chance to get the thing that was a little bit extra.

For me, the extra was not just getting shoes, but brown-suede, lace-up shoes, with crepe soles that were shaped into individual rolls all along the bottom. I remember them kind of looking like long tootsie rolls.

As a side note, this means it had to have been before the sixth grade, mail-order Mason Shoes sensible slip-ons with the flat bottoms, perfect for the gluing on of a lift to the left one. But that is another story for another time.

I tied on the beautiful new shoes and wore them home from the store. Is there anything better for a kid than getting to wear new shoes home? I didn’t think so.

Basking in the delight of my new shoes and in time alone with my dad (if we were alone. I don’t remember any siblings along.), we headed home. All felt right in the world.

The station wagon parked along the curb in front of our city duplex. I opened the passenger door and stepped out and into a pile of dog poop.

Poop oozed between each roll of those crepe soles. All’s right became oh sh!t.

I remember those shoe bottoms being scrubbed and scraped. Those delightful, rubber rolled soles became a nightmare. I felt the tension and stress and the shatter of shalom.

I don’t remember feeling a comfortable in-between of oh well, dog poop happens. My childish world was experienced and viewed through a lens of either all (everything is right with you) or nothing (everything is wrong with you).

When you allow yourself to remember and feel the good, you open yourself up to remembering and feeling the painful.

And there was painful.

There was hurt and misunderstanding and brokenness and shame. There was loss and miscommunication and fear and stress.

There was my big toe, for goodness sake!

But there was also redemption coming. Strange and small and slow, it crept up, at first. Nudging, tapping on the shoulder, whispering what about me?

It wasn’t easy, isn’t easy to learn a new dance.

dancing with dad

Sometimes it takes years of trying, stepping in dog poop, and getting your toes stepped on to learn the new moves. Sometimes the moves feel stiff and unnatural, and you long for the effortless twirling across the floor of that father-daughter team.

But this is us.

And we have grown. Are growing. Were picked for each other by a God who loves us and already knew we were who we needed to be in each other’s lives. Even when we might have thought otherwise.

I am grateful for the new dance we have grown into, even when it is scary, and I wonder if it is real.

dancing with dad

And about that baby sister of mine and how we had different dads? The last line of her post sums up how our dad is the same. I’m stealing it for the last line of mine!

I love seeing how far our relationship has come, and I’m excited to see where it is headed!

Thanks for heart-composting with me! I appreciate your words.