currently i’m listening to him as he pretends to be prince eric and she ariel while she takes a bath in the nearby room. she is giggling as he’s doing the whole voice thing, making sure to enunciate and dramatize for full effect. he loves to make her laugh. and that’s just one of the many things i love about him.
when he became a dad for the first time, it was the father/son image that he clung to. it was in so many ways just exactly what he had hoped for. and then the second time around, we were again hoping for a boy, this time a boy who lived in africa. that little one we still long for as our adoption story unfolded ever so differently than we had ever imagined.
and then, a girl. little mercy june.
she surprised us in all the ways, making herself a part of our family at the most perfect and unexpected time, introducing us to a whole new level of grace in the midst of grief. he was less sure of himself this time around – the uncharted territory of fathering a girl was a daunting weight. he was anxious, but i wasn’t. not for a second. because i had experienced his tenderness, his attentiveness, his generosity when it came to praise. i knew this little girl was going to feel seen and known from the start.
sure, there would be things we’d have to figure out along the way (hello temper tantrums and all the big feelings!) but that was stuff we could navigate. the most important stuff, the stuff that shapes a little girl’s heart – that stuff was intuitively in him already. so as i sit here and listen to them, an unannounced witness to their very tender relationship, i can’t help but feel overcome with gratitude at him. a guy who is learning as he goes. a person who strives to love well, often times learning from scratch with no prior example to follow.
i admire him, i am so so thankful for him. i know that because of him and his willingness to be the prince in her story now, she will never doubt that she is worthy of taking up her space, of being seen and known and cherished just as she is. she doesn’t need a prince to validate her – no. but, a father who gently and consistently instills in her a sense of value and respect empowers her to develop and speak her voice over a lifetime. the world is going to be different because of mercy, i know ours already is. and i have him to thank for much of that.
*photo credit Julie Harmsen Photography from our trip to Maui when she was just months old.