I’m writing 30 Words for 30 Days, one topic per day. Find out why here.
Today is my dad’s birthday.
Yep, April Fool’s Day. No kidding.
Of all the years of pranks, the best one ever would have been for him to wake up today and realize that this whole last month had been some kind of prank. Some kind of twisted joke being played on the world that had now been revealed.
Maybe, too, that it was 76 degrees outside, sunny and with a slight breeze blowing out of the west, perfect for RC airplane flying. Rarely happens at the beginning of April though.
Unfortunately… instead he’ll be ordering take out and celebrating with my mom and sister at home as they try to steer clear of the virus and party like it’s 2019.
So, while I can’t change any of that, what I can do is help celebrate him by sharing some of my favorite memories with you dad. So, here goes…
Of course, one of my favorites has always been time shared flying together, such as in this post about 5000 feet. Growing up, I can remember heading up to Marion, OH on some Saturday morning with the warm summer air blowing across the field. Riding shotgun with you in the tow plane as we towed up countless sailplane riders and cut them loose and dove back down to grab another. And then getting our chance to fly the sailplane together as well, searching for those thermals, gazing down on the world below as if in slow motion.
Whenever I work on home projects, I’m so thankful for all the things you showed me growing up. How to figure things out, use the right tools, not give up. I remember working together fixing a toilet, getting my hands dirty working on the car (even though I used to hate the feel of grease on my hands). Household assembly projects, working in the attic or or wherever. You taught me to be curious and do what I can for myself.
I’m thankful for all the hours you spent watching me play sports… badly. Honestly, I was pretty awful. But you sat through all the soccer games, the basketball (briefly), the track meets and more. You were there when I missed the mat (but cleared the bar) in high jump and went home with a concussion. You were there when I tripped over the first hurdle in my regional 300m race, hit the track and then got up to come back and finish strong. You were always there.
You were so instrumental in teaching me how to really care about others. I can hear your voice sometimes echo in mine with my own kids. But you challenged me to think more about others than I was about myself. To put myself in their shoes. It always bugged you when I would just be selfish in how I responded to someone or treated someone. And even though, especially as a teen (what is it about those teenagers? :), I often didn’t want to hear it, those words sank in deep and made a difference.
You gave me a love for video, writing and creativity. From those stop-action super 8 movies you made of the Fisher Price airport set to the countless projects we worked on together, I know now you were enjoying them as much as I was. And when I write an ode or craft a video or do something creative, I’m thankful for those seeds and encouragement and your vision.
You taught me how to work hard and were my partner in lawn mowing and paper routes. One of my favorite snapshots in time is how you’d pick me up at the bottom of the street on my paper route on those cold winter mornings, we’d stop to get doughnuts and then eat them at the top of the next street in the car before I stepped back out into the cold. White frosted raspberry filled is still one of my faves.
Finally, I’m thankful for showing me how to be a dad. As I’ve passed through the stages of new dad, dad with young kids, teenagers and now with an… yikes… adult in the house, I’m thankful for what I’ve learned from you in the past
about how to build into my kids, encourage them, and help spur them on to do what God has called them to do.
So thanks dad, for all the ways you’ve built into me and memories you’ve given me to cherish. I look forward to being able to celebrate together when all of this is over. Let’s find a nice open field and a warm summer morning….
A tribute to those brave moms and dads who have faced… The Diaper Change
ODE TO THE DIAPER CHANGE As you walk through the room, you can tell without thinking That someone in diapers has just started stinking You try to take cover, to hide out of sight But then you think “No, that just wouldn’t be right”
“Hey honey!” you call out, “your baby needs changing” “I’ll be in the garage doing some re-arranging…” A lack of reply from your spouse tells you quickly This one’s all on you, sir, so better act swiftly
You follow your nose to the one that’s offending The stench is so strong here, no time for pretending You reach down and rescue your smelly young peanut Exclaiming out loud, “Wow that’s strong!”, and you mean it
With baby in hand and an urgency pressing You rush to the table and start the undressing Of course, now you realize that this is the day That layers and layers of clothes are in play
So you pull and unsnap and then slide off the garments To only find out to your shock and alarm that What you thought was simple is now more complex A “blowout” has you in a state of duress
You trudge on in spite of the setback you’re facing With wipes as your weapons there’s no need for pacing You’ve trained for this moment and execute quickly Though fumes from the diaper have you feeling sickly
But soon you are done and your task is completed The baby is changed and now you’re warmly greeted With hugs and some kisses from your little treasure A thank you that’s worth more than all you can measure
“Who’s the extra place at the table for?” our boys asked
“A new Washburn,” we replied as they all stared back with jaws dropped.
That was a conversation that happened at our dinner table a few years back when we announced that someone new was joining our family.
Little did they know that their world of dirt, Legos, and Nerf swords would soon be invaded by pink, princesses, and braids.
Some people close to us might know that Janette and I had our share of issues when it came to having children.
Before our oldest was born, we dealt with several years of struggle and heartache, infertility and miscarriages.
Like many others who have walked that road, it was a struggle for both of us and a test of our faith.
Many prayers were prayed, asking why, asking God to bless us with a child and to walk with us during that dry time.
In the middle of it, we really didn’t know what the future would hold.
Along Came Baby
Then, like had happened before, we found out Janette was pregnant again.
Of course, given our history, it was hard to really get excited until the pregnancy was farther along.
In the back of our minds there was still a nagging thought that it wouldn’t last.
Would this one end like the others? We weren’t sure.
But, by God’s mercy, she went full term and we welcomed our firstborn into the world… a boy.
It was a truly amazing experience, especially considering where we were coming from.
One Two Three
Then, as if the fertility floodgates had opened wide, the next three years brought two more boys into our fold.
We found ourselves with three boys in diapers, making quite long days for Janette, trying to keep up with them and their collective craziness.
She did an amazing job, as if she was designed to be a boy mom.
We felt very blessed to not only have one child, but to have three healthy young boys at home.
And yet, after our youngest son was born, we still felt that we weren’t done yet. We had prayed about it and really felt like we were supposed to have at least one more.
But something had changed
I’m not sure what happened, but just as quickly as we had gone from years of drought to years of plenty… the tables turned again.
We began to stare months and months of disappointment in the face. It was so confusing to us.
And yet at the same time, it made me stand even more in awe of our Creator and to respect the miracle of life.
At one point, when we had been married for fifteen years, my wife realized that we had spent half of them dealing with these issues.
Why is it so easy for some to have children and not others? Why did we go from drought to babies to nothing again? I didn’t have any answers.
Signs, signs, everywhere a sign
We continued to feel like God was speaking to us through various signs along the way. From generic things like continuing to receive baby formula coupons several years after our last child to other, crazier signs.
One night, when stopped at a stop sign, I saw three little deer cross the street, one after another. Then, right as I was about to take off, here came another one running across.
Janette had similar experiences, such as people she knew casually telling her things like “You have four kids, right?”
It was those signs that kept it in our minds that maybe God still had something in store for us.
And yet, the years began to tick along with nothing more happening. Were we just imagining things or was this something that God still planned to do? We wanted to trust Him either way.
I’m thankful for the many who prayed with us, for us, and over us during those times. I know that God heard each word
Years had passed. We found ourselves eight years removed from bringing home our youngest son. We had settled into life with our three boys and loved our family dynamics.
It was then that God decided that it was time for that next chapter He had hinted at.
One night Janette took a test. I asked her what it said.
Her response: “You’d better finish off our attic because we’re going to need some more space”
After that long drought, Janette was indeed pregnant again. We had such mixed emotions.
This is what we had felt He was leading us towards over all those years and yet we were pretty comfortable with our family of five. Were we ready for all of that to change?
Well, when God changes things up, He does it big. Not only were we adding a fourth, it would be a girl… our first.
Here comes our princess
And so, five years ago we welcomed our long-promised precious baby girl into a family that didn’t know we were missing her until she arrived.
Now, we can’t imagine life without her spunky little personality, bracelets and necklaces, and beautiful smile.
Our boys, whose jaws dropped when they found out they were getting a sibling, now love playing with her, helping her build lego creations, and teaching her how to properly handle a Nerf sword and a football.
That fourth little deer that had made its way in front of my car all of those years before… has now made its way into my heart.
Now it’s hard to remember life without her. She has so filled our life with joy and is a constant reminder…to never give up.
As a dad, I often get so caught up in the day-to-day with my kids. Am I modeling what I want them to learn? Am I building into each of them, encouraging them, listening, giving them what they need?
As time goes, on, I realize more and more that they may not remember a conversation that we had on the way to church or something I did or said to them on any particular day.
But I hope that there will be some memories that will stick with them, that they’ll remember. Memories that will remind them that I cared, special times we spent together.
I’ve been blessed to have a great dad who has spent time with me, valued me, and loved me, and who continues to encourage me. Along the way, we’ve made some pretty special memories that I’ll never forget.
This is one of them…
FIVE THOUSAND FEET by Shawn Washburn
It’s you and it’s me, here at five thousand feet I see the whole world from this passenger seat Spending some time with my dad in the air Way up in the sky, without any cares
We glide and we turn, as we soar ever higher Looking for thermals in our sheet metal flyer Hanging on air, like it’s nothing at all Me and my father, just having a ball
I wish we could stay here, and never come down Cutting through clouds and not making a sound Birds down below us, a blue sky above Hanging and talking with my dad that I love
So thankful for having a dad that is caring Making some memories with this time that we’re sharing Pictures and snapshots are my souvenirs Spent with my dad who I’ve loved through the years.