Growing up, I never thought about what career I wanted to pursue . That was because I was being programed to be a pastor. That was not mean. That was my older family wanted their wonderful son and brother to have the most honorable career they could imagine . But for me my life’s dream was not a career. Instead my dream was to be a dad.My career followed a path that seemed random as I lived it out but it turned out to be very satisfying
When I finally had my kids I was happy Jerelyn and I had four wonderful daughters. We had them close together on purpose to give them a chance to be close friends. I was so happy. Jerelyn and I made a conscious decision to live on what I earned so the children could have their mom at home with them. That sounds a bit unmodern since Jerelyn did not work. However, when the kids were older she found a satisfying career.
I loved coming home from work. The girls were either watching for me or else rushed to greet me from wherever they were playing. We had worked out a system. for the evening. roughly it went like this
After the dad and girl first burst of communication, Jerelyn and I met in the kitchen and shared ours days. When Jerelyn and I began our debrief time the girls went off to play. After that dinner prep came into focus.The kitchen table was picnic style. We had bought a kit of a picnic table. We all worked on assembling the table. When it was put together we all stained it. We applied the stain by hand.
The girls were pretty young so it was messy. I cleaned up the patio. I do not remember helping clean the kids up. I imagine Jerelyn has a much better memory of that. We all up was a family affair in my memory. Baths fit in their somewhere.
I loved the moment I got home from work. Sometimes the girls lined up at the living room window. Sometimes they came running when they heard the front door open.
Our evenings went like this. When me and the girls first made contact in the living room the five of us kind of debriefed while mom watched or got dinner ready.
The came my favorite part. We all gathered in the living room. The girls and I made up physical games to play. They were rough house toss kids around games. My favorite was when I got on my hands and knees and their job was to knock me over but tickling was forbidden but always occured if they otherwise could not take me down,
Then I read them stories out loud. . We loved the Chronicles of Narnia and a Children’s book of Bible stories. The writing’s of Madeleine de Engle came when they were a little older .
A lot of the time we would form a circle, put on some very rhythmic music and dance. The goofier we dance we dance the more fun it was. Eached person performed there unique dance. There was noting formal about it.
After baths we put them to bed. When they all got settled down I stood in the hall way between their two rooms and played the guitar and sang hymns to them. I usually sang “Pass me No” and ” Amazing Grace” . Jerelyn got a little break in the evenings. Not that she didn’t participate because she did when she felt like it. The girls were close in ages and when I wasn’t home the girls were a handful.
As they got older sports in the driveway entered the picture. We attended lots of basketball at Azusa Pacific University and Citrus Collegeand Dodger Baseball. Gina, my oldest can still recite the dodger lineup from those years.
Many years later when I was in therapy I asked my wonderful therapist how she thought I had developed me drive to be emotionally healthy?. She said “All those years you played with your girls gave you a chance to have the childhood you missed growing up under such stress. That is only one thing I owe to my children. They still delight me.