I am shocked by how different a person I am now that I have children. Two children to be exact. Lucy is our 2-year-old and Jack is 10-months-old. And they are the most amazing children I could ever ask for.
But this story is about Lucy.
Lucy is tall and bright-eyed like her daddy. Her smile changes your entire mood, and her laugh... game over. It is amazing how that happens.
My wife and I will joke that even when we are supposed to be putting her in time out or something, she smiles and it is nearly impossible to not respond in kind.
I think that I have a particularly strong connection with her because we had a "scare" where we feared we lost her when my wife was about 14-15 weeks into her pregnancy.
Frozen with fear for 2 seconds. Then I went into "dad mode" and drove us to the hospital much faster than I would ever recommend anyone drive.
I prayed on the way over. Not too many words, just in my head. Its all I could do.
And then, she was ok.
And my attachment to her was solidified and this experience may very well markedly effect my parenting of her for the remainder of her life. I can offer grace and display patience in a way that I never imagined. I felt like I almost lost her. I can never take her for granted.
My life has been changed by this cute little girl named Lucy - and I'll never be the same.
While this post is not directly about eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder; it is very much about life, meaning, purpose, and relationship. All of which are healing factors in overcoming an eating disorder.
My daughter has a way of pulling my mind and heart back to the present moment more than anything else. And that, I've found, is a beautiful thing. That is something we can all benefit from.
One of the things that strikes me most about parenting my 2-year-old daughter is how perceptive she is and how she has the ability to speak truth into my life in a way I never could have imagined. Ok, I'll stop my waxing and save it for her wedding toast :)
So, five things I've learned from my daughter.
I hope that you find meaning in the list I've included below. I know that I have.
1. "DADA, PUT DOWN"
One day I was playing with Lucy in our living room when, without realizing it, I started typing away on my phone. Whether I was sending an important email or checking my fantasy football team, I do not remember. But I do remember Lucy, making very intentional eye contact, walked up to me, grabbed my phone out of my hands, put it on the ground, and meaningfully stated "Dada put down."
With just three words, she reminded me that my work is less important than spending meaningful time with my daughter. I felt embarrassed. It is an odd feeling to be embarrassed in front of your 2 year old. But she had been more mature than me in that moment.
If my life is off center and unbalanced, then I'm not being the father I need to be for her.
I like to think that I am athletic and in decent shape; however, my daughter can out "play" me any day of the week. Whether it is showing me how high she can hop, wanting to jump on my back, or wanting me to lift her as high as I can, she is always up for more, while I get tired and tap out.
I want to be the kind of father who has energy for my children and says "yes" to the question (sometimes command) "again!?" So whether it is letting her jump on me or making a decision to climb up a playground slide because she wants me to go with her, I'm finding myself game for it. And life is more fun that way.
3. MUSCLE SPASMS HAPPEN
I have carried Lucy around cities, zoos, malls, and in the middle of the night when I'm exhausted but she won't go back to sleep. I've had muscle spasms that only mothers and fathers understand and willingly inflict on themselves.
Why? Because I want her to feel safe. If she wants to stay in my arms, then so be it. I'm sure I'll have to parent differently as she turns 3, 4, or 5, but, in the meantime, I'm happy to spoil her ;)
But my point here is that Lucy has taught my selflessness. There is nothing I wouldn't do for her if I needed to, no matter the cost. I hope that Lucy always knows this and never doubts my love. And I hope that I know how to relate to her over the coming years so that she is confident of who she is and how much my wife and I love her.
4. DADA HOME!
I'm not naive enough to believe she will always be excited when I get home from work... but, it is very nice to have Lucy run toward me screaming with joy and diving into my arms when I walk in the door.
Its funny, but on my drive home, I look forward to that moment. Sometimes I try and unlock the door very quietly and surprise her... I've only succeeded one or two times. She's got great ears.
Yes, apparently Lucy takes... in... everything... Some of the crazy things my wife and I say are often repeated by Lucy.
"I need space." "Mama Craaaaay." Yes, slang for crazy. Etc.
The things we say, whether under our breath to ourselves, each other, or her are all internalized by Lucy. Wow - that is a lot of responsibility. I not only have an impact on how Lucy relates to others, but also on how she views and relates to herself.
I want to relate to myself and my wife in a way that is loving and secure. Also, when I do mess up, I want to be quick to apologize. I want model that though we don't have to be perfect (far from it), it is important to love and respect others and admit fault when we fail.
If she repeats that... then I'm doing ok.
The purpose of this blog entry is to share eating disorder recovery related ideas and does not represent professional medical of psychological advice from Mike Thomas or Recovery Spark. For professional advice, please connect with the professional eating disorder specialist that you work with.