A single father reflects on life with his kids

30 weekends.

That’s the approximate number of times we’ve done this now, give or take a week or two here and there.

It doesn’t get any easier, but at some point the emotion dies down because there are no tears left to release.

My devotion to you remains constant, but I’ll admit my ability to keep up with you is not as strong as it once was. I hope you can forgive me for that. I work out hard every day, but somehow it’s still no match for your energy level. I guess that’s a perk reserved for kids.

I shared a moment with both of you this weekend that’s quite ponderous.

Mandy

My sister-in-law brought her one-year-old daughter over to play with you. You’re so good with her. Your love for her is sweet but the intensity witch which you show it is too much for her. My sister-in-law observed this about you and off-handedly commented you might be artistic when you grew up.

I thought about that.

Later, when we got in bed I shared some M&M’s with you and told you what a daddy’s girl you were, like the time you sat on my lap and made the same gesture with your hands as me. You smiled when I told you about this and you asked if Ryker did it too. I told you he never had and I think you were glad.

I love my Mandy Shay. I hope you don’t ever resent me for what happened between your mom and I. You share the same name with me, a constant reminder that you are my daughter. I hope you appreciate that name and feel a sense of loyalty and even pride toward your dad.

The words of a scripture came to mind.

“When you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good.” (Helaman 5:6)

I hope you are allowed to grow up with a healthy view toward your dad. I pray that your experiences with me will be good and that, imperfect as I am, you might view me with some degree of goodness.

Sometimes your intensity brings out my frustration and impatience. I try to suppress it because I know you are just like me. I hope those similarities continue to create a special bond between us. I am eager to see how you use that intensity as you grow and mature. I would be delighted if, as an adult, you chose to walk in my footsteps. It would certainly send a strong message to your mom’s side of the family.

I promise I will love you no matter what you decide to do with your life.

Ryker

As you cried in the other room, I could tell the cough and the congestion was making it uncomfortable to sleep. I brought you into the bed next to me because no one should have to endure their pain alone. I gently laid you on my pillow and picked the booger out of your nose. The honest truth is that it didn’t bother me at all to do this. I knelt down and pleaded with Heavenly Father on your behalf.

“Heavenly Father,” I said. “Ryker has been through enough in the last year. He doesn’t need to be sick on top of it. This is not necessary and it’s not fair. I am asking you, as his father, to please heal him.”

I let you sleep as long as you could the next day. I stayed home with you while everyone else went to church. When you woke, I picked you up and held you on the couch. You snuggled as we watched a movie. The fever was gone.

God listens to a father’s pleadings.

After a few minutes, you looked up with those bright, puppy dog eyes and said sweetly, “Juice.”

I got you some juice. We sat down and you said, “Phone.”

We spent the next hour watching music videos on the phone. I watched you pucker your lips and blink your eyes as you watched with childlike interest at the screen.

“I love you, bud,” I whispered in your ear. “Do you know that?”

“Yeah,” you said, without taking your eyes off the phone.

I imagined you as an 18-year-old boy preparing to serve a mission for the Lord, just like your dad did at that age. I remembered the scripture we had read the day before,

“And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.” (Alma 13:2)

It dawned on me that this was a scripture about fathers. I replaced the word “priests” with “fathers” and “people” with “children.” With those changes, the verse now reads like this,

“And those fathers were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby their children might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.”

I am waiting to see what the Lord can do with an imperfect father who loves his son dearly and a young son who is looking to his father for support and strength. I pray that I can live worthy of your trust and that the Lord will grant my righteous desires.

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