When my kids were very small, I carried on a family tradition. I put each child on my knee and proceeded to bounce them around, singing,
“Pony girl (or boy), pony girl, won’t you be my pony girl. Here we go, don’t say ‘no’, out across the plain. Giddyup, giddyup, giddyup, whoa! My pony girl!”
My sweet kiddo would laugh and flail around and we would wind up in a ball of cuddles and kisses. I love that it was another way the threads of life’s tapestry were woven across generations. That silly little song connected me to my parents and my children to all of us. I hope that, one day, my grown-up kids bounce their babies on their knees to the same melody and rhyme.
The reality of life is that babies don’t stay babies. Pony girls grow up, and they enter into new stages of stretching and boundary testing and Daddy’s knee – indeed, Daddy in general – no longer seems like such a fun place.
The past couple of weeks have been difficult. They have been emotionally brutal reminders that the ripple effect of divorce carries on after the papers have been signed and the adults have started along new paths. Honestly, many of the same emotions I felt two years ago when my ex-wife left seem to be echoing in my chest and mind these days as I think about the way my oldest daughter is currently regarding me. She won’t talk to me about her complaints…she won’t allow me to give her a hug or visit with her or just be the daddy I’ve always been.
So many things in the rest of my life are brilliant right now. I am in love with a remarkable woman who loves me back. I have a job that allows me to spend my days with crazy, wonderful 5th graders. I have a family that encourages and celebrates me.
But I also have a child who, this morning, told me that she has no desire to ever talk to me again…with no explanation beyond an assurance that there IS no offered explanation.
So, what do I do? What CAN I do? I have to look to the examples I’ve been given…the two best fathers I know. My own dad, and my Heavenly Father.
My own dad – Allan Bryan Cosand – is a beautiful and patient man. He is love and gentleness and strength embodied in a man who has weathered life’s ups and downs with grace and courage. I don’t even have to ask his advice in this matter because I have seen it in his actions through 42 years of living as his son.
“Be patient…wait and love…she will be okay…just be consistent and strong and forgiving…love her without expectation or condition.”
My Heavenly Father, like my earthly father, has endured MY ups and downs…my doubts and seasons of faithlessness…my rebellion and anger…my silly attitudes and stubborn stances. And He, like my earthly father, has loved me consistently through all of it.
I have been loved patiently with great kindness. I have been loved generously, genuinely, selflessly. I have been given a love that keeps no record of my wrongs…that holds no joy in my failures…that rejoices when I recognize the truth. I have been shown love that is protecting, trusting, always hopeful, and unfailing.
And, if that is the love I have been given by the two best dads I could ever possibly ask for, how can I give my own children anything less?
I’m writing this blog post as a reminder of where I come from…the tapestry of love of which I am part. I am writing it as a reminder of what I want to be…how I want to love…of the example and tradition I want to give my own children so that they can give it to theirs when the time comes.
As much as I wish that I could take my daughter into my arms right now, sing some silly, sweet song to her, and then melt into laughter and joy, I recognize that life has seasons and growing up is hard…especially with the added burden of a family that is being redefined. My sweet daughter…my pony girl…will be okay. She is loved by so many people and knows, deep down, that she has a daddy who is her biggest fan.
And so…now…I will try my best to be patient. I will wait and love. I will be consistent and strong and forgiving.
And I will yearn for the time when she lets me hold her again.