Our routine circa 1989

After all this celebrating of fathers, I've been contemplating their cyclical role.  It's my Dad's birthday tomorrow and this is my gift to him, a memory from when I was thirteen in 1989.  We were sitting in his chevy suburban, the original SUV back before they were called SUVs, staying warm on a dark, cold winter morning.  Soon the school bus that we were waiting for would arrive to whisk me off to my freshman year of high school, a very challenging year.  Familiar to many, it was fraught with constant insecurities, swimming around to make friends, to stay afloat socially. 

This was our routine.  Dad and I would stop at the convenience store, he'd buy me a chocolate chip cookie or a bagel.  We'd sit and listen to the classic rock station until the bus came rolling around the corner.  He'd turn up the radio when he heard a Tom Petty or CSN song and sing a few words.  Time stood still, even slowed down for those twenty or thirty minutes we were together.  He was never rushed or seemed like he needed to be anywhere else but right there with me.  Dad is not a big talker, which is helpful when you're thirteen.  It gave me the space to talk and he was there to listen.
Our waiting for the bus routine lasted for a few months or more, maybe the entire year, I'm not sure.  However, it wasn't long until a boyfriend, driving, and a driving boyfriend entered my life.  Then, a new type of independence began.  This is what perplexes me now, as parent.  I wonder if Dad knew this was coming?  I wonder if he knew that all too soon, these simple moments of us sitting alone together, just a fourteen year old girl and her dad, would end?  Dad, I want you to know that although those quiet mornings together were brief, they probably helped a lot.  They probably somehow got me through my freshman year, probably still help to this day at thirty-seven when I found I have married a man that gives me the space to talk and he's there to listen.  Those quiet mornings remind me of how my husband fathers our daughter.  The other night I peeked in on them lying in bed head-to-head on the pillow during the bedtime routine, the often dreaded bedtime routine.  On this night, after she was asleep and we were lying in bed head-to-head on our pillows, he later told me that it was very sweet listening to her, she had so much to say to him, to just talk.  I'm noticing this trickle-down-effect as a parent and I'm so glad she will know this feeling that having your Dad listen to you probably helps a lot, will probably get you through.
I mentioned him on my my about page and how he taught me that making things with your hands is honorable work and a fine way to support and love your family.  I could say a lot more about how he provides for us and gives us the best opportunities possible while following his passions and loving his work.  I could note how I love how he always compliments us: his wife, daughters and granddaughter on how nice we look when we get dressed up.  However; I think the most important thing is to question my days that are full of total distraction; texting, facebook messages and email. How often do my kids get just me, alone and am I okay with it?  Like the old days in 1989 before there was all this, I vow to put the freaking phone down and just listen.
Happy Birthday Dad and thank you for Everything with a capital E. You are so very loved.
I'd love to hear about your dads too, this blog may be entirely self indulgent, but there's room for you too!  Either in private or public, writing is cathartic and insightful.

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