I brought you home and immediately wondered how I was going to keep up with you after an early morning preceded by 4 and a half hours of sleep and a 5-hour car trip (for me).
After making play dough and running around the yard, I was grateful to see you excited about taking the play dough to our house to play. We brought it home and made a royal mess, but I didn’t care because I was exhausted and ready to sit. I love watching your mind at work and how happy you are to do simple things.
After 30 minutes, as is usually the case, you were ready to move on to something else.
“Let’s dance!,” you said.
Dancing usually means lots of lifting and spinning for daddy
Despite my low energy level, I am always eager to embrace every moment with you. Hoping to boost my energy level, I decided to incorporate an impromptu workout routine into the “dance moves.”
While spinning you, doing ballerina twirls, jumping off the couch and lifting you on my shoulders, I did push-ups and pull-ups in between to the tune of “Better When you’re Dancin'” “I Got this Feelin,” “Get Back Up Again,” “The Greatest Show,” and “This is Me.”
That moment in time, in the privacy of our living room, we were the stars of our own show, and it truly was “The Greatest Show.” What you didn’t see as we danced is the tears beneath my sweat. I wish I could’ve captured the feelings of that moment in a bottle.
The next morning, we went for a walk around the lake. I kept coaxing you to keep walking as you literally stopped to smell the roses. We completed a full lap around the lake (1 mile) and you headed straight for the playground.
We slid down the slide, walked across the bridge, climbed the bar and dug holes in the sand. As we were heading back to the car, you saw the sand hill.
“Daddy, we never played on the sand hill,” you said.
Always eager to embrace every moment with you, I said “Race you to the top!”
We got our hands in the sand and looked at the water, but we didn’t have the moment until we decided to really dive in. We took off our shoes and ran in the water. Once you were up to your waist in water, you headed straight for the sand hill.
My first instinct was to tell you to stop. You’ll be a mess, I thought. You asked me to bury your legs, then your waist and finally your torso in the sand.
You were laughing with delight the way a child does when they’re having fun. Again, I was in awe of your love for simple things.
You didn’t say a word, but somehow I knew you wanted to fully share this experience with me. At that moment, a voice inside seemed to say, “Stop worrying. Right now, just let it all go and share this moment with her.”
I lay down in the sand and told you to put my glasses on the picnic table below. We crawled, rolled and played in the sand to our heart’s content. I knew you were proud when you said, “You’re the best daddy ever!”
The next night, after a long day at the park, we got a little grouchy. The day wasn’t over yet. You still wanted to have fun but I wasn’t feeling it. We’d been sitting around for the last couple of hours and I felt we needed some structure.
You helped me clean up the house and we went for an evening stroll to the bookstore in town. We looked, bought a treat and came back home. Your brother was fast asleep. I put him to bed and helped you in the house.
Even though it was late, we sat on the couch and read books. We read “Harry, the Dirty Dog” and you started asking me whether I had a dog when I was a kid. For the next hour, you were content to listen as I told you stories from my childhood about the dogs I owned.
I know Heaven is real because you and I experienced it together when you settled in next to me on the couch with your head on my shoulder.
These moments, and many others like them, are what bring meaning and purpose to my life. I will cherish them forever and I hope you will too. I look forward to many more moments when I, in the heart of the moment, can show you that there is nothing I love more than being your dad.