Learning to accept the path laid out before me is a continuing adventure

Ask just about anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you I’m not very good at taking directions.  I tend to dance to the beat of my own drum, walk my own path, run my own race; you get the picture.  If it tells you anything about me, my own dad advised my spouse on the eve of our wedding that she’d get along a lot better if she asked me to do something rather than told me to do something.  I won’t lie, although it was accurate, I winced a little.

I suppose I’m not far from being Popeye (‘I am what I am and that’s all that I am’) well, aside from the forearms and tattoos.  For whatever reason, I’ve always leaned toward sticking my chin out and forging ahead on my own path.  My plan has always been my plan, nothing more, nothing less.  Our daughter Madison brought me to my knees on that whole thing though.

After we had our son, we knew we wanted more children.  Having our second, Abbie, wasn’t nearly as easy as having our first though.  We lost babies to miscarriage more than once.  At the time it was just about more pain than we thought we could bear and it surely didn’t follow my design, nor fit my expectations.  The whole ordeal is definitely another story for another day but for now suffice it to say I received at least a glimpse of the inconsequential nature of my plans.  God wasn’t punishing me; he was just priming the pump for the rest of my education.  Once our second child was born we accepted that she would be our last.  Then Madison came along.

When we/I thought the lesson had been learned, Christmas came again. Without getting into the intimate details I think it’s permissible to say I assured my wife we wouldn’t/couldn’t get pregnant again.  54 weeks to the day after number two came along, number three entered our world.  Plan smashed.

The kid/parent ratio is a delicate thing.  I was one of two kids; my wife was one of three.  Your experience may be different than ours but when kids outnumber parents (notice I didn’t say adults) it’s a game-changer.  One-to-one the parents have a fighting chance.  Once the scales tip to the opposition’s favor, you have no choice but to put your faith and trust in something bigger than yourself (there’s that God thing again).  You’re forced down paths so far divergent from your imagined route you must acquiesce or go bonkers.  Take hair for example.

Guys, including yours truly, take it for granted that hair takes about 30 seconds.  A dab of gel, a comb or brush, put it in place and forget it, right?  Oh, how wrong you realize you are when you add the second daughter.  Don’t get me wrong, our youngest wasn’t a priss.  She wasn’t a self-proclaimed primper like her mom but somehow I became her and her sister’s go-to when it came to hair.  I’d like to think it was my superior, learned proficiency with a brush to clear the snarls out of their long hair as painlessly as possible but I’m almost certainly giving myself too much credit.  Piggy tails, pony tails (including the coveted side-pony) and a little rudimentary braiding soon became a part of my daily routine.  Again, I may be over-reaching but I think for a guy to adopt an appreciation for fixing hair, a healthy dose of love has to exist.

I wouldn’t think of brushing, combing or doing anything really with any girl’s or woman’s hair that wasn’t my daughter’s.  It certainly wasn’t a proclivity that my gender or hog-farming background lent itself to in any way.  And yet in the act of turning a snarled, rat’s nest of locks into a more than acceptable head of hair was/is one of the most satisfying dad duties I’ve ever had the honor of carrying out.  For a guy who was averse to almost any display of affection (ask my spouse) the at-least-daily process of fooling with my daughters’ hair provided opportunity to express my love in a tactile way.  Brushing our daughters’ hair built a bond over the years and the hug afterwards was often the highlight of my day.

Is there anything that strikes closer to the heart of a parent than the affection of their child?  Looking back I couldn’t be happier or more thankful for this crazy divergence from who I was and what I was.  It’s not the direction I would have imagined or the rhythm of my own drum but the music is sweeter than any I could ever have imagined.

The longer I’m around the more I appreciate these wacky course corrections and the more accepting I am of God’s direction.  It’s been a good thing and I’m tremendously thankful for it.  Ultimately I can’t imagine how boring things would be if it all went according to plan.

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