She wrote “because he loves me.”
This morning was “donuts with Dad” at my daughter’s school. I really look forward to these events because they always give us a sheet that our kids helped fill out. It’s an “information” sheet about us that they ask our kiddos. Sometimes they are funny- like your 4 year old trying to guess your age. Sometimes they are comically spot on-like my daughter knowing exactly what my favorite food is. And sometimes they are so heartwarmingly honest and loving that it knocks you back on your heels.
I worry a lot. Unfortunately, that has been a defining trait of my life as defined by anxiety and depression. I never thought I was a hand wringing worrier until I started hearing from my friends about the obvious times that I was stressed and worried. I thought I hid it well…obviously not.
As my small family begins to grow and experience more together I have begun to worry about a whole new set of issues. Namely, I get concerned that I won’t adequately express my love for my kids in a way that they will recognize it.
I worry that the times I am stressed I will bring it home and they will bear that burden.
I worry that the times I am tired they will take that as Daddy not wanting to be around them.
I worry that I don’t take them to cool enough events or fun enough vacations and so they miss out on what their friends have.
I worry that my own wandering in my mind will be recognizable to them not as something that I work through, but rather as a lack of concern for them.
Then I worry about my worry which only leads to more worry. It would almost be comical if it weren’t so painfully true.
But in all the complexity that is adulthood and all the tangled up mess that can be my mind, I miss the simplicity of love. I miss the simplicity of what it feels like to be loved and to show love. That’s why my daughter is so special. She is bold, she is honest, and she knows how to show and receive love well.
The last line of the sheet she filled out this morning was “I love my daddy because _____________.” It had been silly to that point so I had to read the line twice. She wrote “because he loves me.”
“I love my daddy because he loves me.”
The hugs, the cuddles, the sweet kisses, even the batting of the eyes (because she knows I’ll do whatever she wants when she does that) isn’t some obligation that daughters give their fathers. It’s genuine, unbridled, unhindered love and she does that BECAUSE she knows that I love her. It doesn’t take fancy vacations, continuous presents, or something beyond my ability to do or give, it just takes me.
With those 8 words my heart melted and my defenses broke down. I had to compose myself because I almost started crying in a room full of 4 year olds and their dads. I know she says that she loves me because I love her…but maybe one day she’ll know the impact that her love has on me. Until then, I may continue to worry about making sure I express my love to it’s fullest extent, but I’ll know that when I pick her up in my arms she doesn’t feel that I am lacking, or incapable. Instead she only feels in that hug exactly what it is that I’m trying to give, all of my love.