The past three years she has begged me not to make her go. Because no sporty, laid back tomboy wants to don a dress when it’s not even Sunday to go dance with her father in front of the whole school. Normally, and because she and I are a lot alike, I would totally get this. However, I grew up in a club that no one wants to be in. The Dead Dad’s Club.
When I saw the event coming up on the calendar this year, I had an ache for them to go. For both of them… but mostly for her. Because I remember what it felt like to not have a father like all the rest of my friends. I remember my mother allowing my sisters and I to stay home from church on Father’s Day for years following his death because watching the kids sing their songs and talk about theirs was the worst reminder that we no longer had ours with us. And despite having the most amazing grandfather who played the Dad role so unbelievably well and for so long, I still ached for my father to be arm in arm with me as I walked down the aisle on my wedding day.
So I sat her down. I gave it to her straight because that is just our style around here. I reminded her about my membership in a particular club and that her going would not only mean the world to me, but to her father. That he only has so many years of having daughters young enough to take to these types of things. And that time passes far too quickly for us parents. And that she would one day look back on this memory and be so grateful for a mother who made her go. And because….
Blake stopped me mid sentence and smiled. “Mom, I’ll go.”
And as I took a few pictures that evening, watched them practice dancing on the driveway before driving off, I couldn’t help but feel one of those darn pangs of bitterness of what I had to grow up without – even still after all this time. It wasn’t until that evening (literally 15 minutes after getting to the dance) when they texted me their selfie, sent me a clip of them dancing together and then calling me via Face Time at the gas station to get everyone’s drink orders before heading home (in typical Blake and Dad fashion) that my eyes welled with tears at how grateful I am that she has this memory. That she has these simple snapshots to remind her of the amazing man she has standing behind her every step of the way. And I know she won’t be aware of this until she is a parent herself because that’s just how it goes, but getting to watch it all is the most bittersweet thing that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
To her it was just a father daughter dance. To me, though, it was so much more…
daughters, fatherhood, raising kids