A Father’s day Hope Becomes a Birthday Promise
On June 24, 2001 I received my very first Father’s Day card. I wasn’t yet a father, but I was engaged to marry someone who had two children, so I was soon going to be a father. I remember crying (yes, I am man enough to admit I cried) when I received that card. I had dreamt of being a father, but I had never dreamt I would be a father to two children who had lost theirs. It was a big responsibility, and frankly one I was a bit terrified of. I had spent some time questioning my ability to fill that role and wondering if these children would love me and accept me as “dad.” That Father’s Day card obliterated at least the latter worries. It was a monument of acceptance, a symbol of trust, and one of the most loving things I have ever received. That Father’s Day card moved me from filling the role of “dad” to embracing the reality of fatherhood with all of its joys and struggles.

From that day forward I was never “step-dad,” but father, daddy, dad. I never thought of these children as my step-kids, but as my own flesh and blood. I didn’t replace their father who had passed away, but rather I stepped into the physical place that death left empty. History will testify that I didn’t get it all right. I made a lot of mistakes, but I never regretted becoming their dad. 

Today, the oldest of those two children celebrates her birthday, and I wish I could give her the same joy I felt with my very first Father’s Day card. I’ve missed the last ten years of her life, failing miserably to live up to the hopes she had the day she and her sister gave me that beautiful card. God doesn’t give us the freedom of do-overs, or I would gratefully go back to that June day in 2001 and begin afresh. I would recognize then, not just the joys that fatherhood brings, but I’d also recognize the duty and responsibility it brought and the humility and commitment it would require. It might still leave me terrified, but it’d also leave me humbled with the realization that I was being entrusted with the delicate love a child has for her father. Alongside the pride I felt that day would have been a deep humility, the humility that is required to be a good dad. 

I can’t go back and change the past though. God doesn’t give us do-overs. But the beauty of life is that no matter how shameful or messy the chapters are in the story of our pasts, the pages of our futures are blank, just waiting for the ink of action to write new chapters. I’m already writing new chapters, trying to change the story of my life from tragedy to triumph. These chapters are missing characters, but weaved through every page is a promise and intention to live up to the hope printed in crayon by the hand of two small children. Yes, I already failed to live up to that hope–I can’t go back and be the father I should have been; however, I can go forward and be the man my children deserved, one who may someday yet experience the grace (and joy!) of again being called dad. 

Happy Birthday, my daughter.

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Author: Bryan Noonan
The opinions expressed within posts and comments are solely those of each author, and are not necessarily those of Women Against Registry.

The opinions expressed within posts and comments are solely those of each author, and are not necessarily those of Women Against Registry.