Recently, I hurt my 5-year-old son, Micaiah. Something I had repeatedly told him not to do I thought he had done. He is in that stage of perfecting his skill of deception. So obviously any response he gave could not be trusted. I yelled in his face while waving my finger threateningly between his eyes and then swatted his butt…a little harder than I should had. Sobbing, tears trickling down his pale cheeks from his bloodshot baby blue eyes, he still insisted he didn’t do it. Isaiah, my 4-year-old, lumbered into the room but was unwilling to face my gaze. While twirling his foot around the carpet he mumbled through his thumb in mouth that his brother didn’t do it, it was him.
I had two men I knew as father growing up. Like many of you, I am a child of divorce. My upbringing was by no means all roses and daisies. There was hurt, broken promises, and mistakes just like every parent-child relationship. But compared to many stories, I’ll keep mine. I love my dads. I am proud to have them as the grandfathers of my children. There has been healing and restoration over the years and our relationship today is as strong as it has ever been. But this is not about my fathers. It’s about me…as a dad. When I first learned I was going to be a father, I fell into a state of fear: what type of father would I be?
As that child’s lip quivered and his gorgeous eyes peered at my feet, my heart sunk. I had crushed the heart of my child. The father he loves and trusts had violated his trust and love. What type of father was I? Bending my knee, I cupped his chin in my hand. “Kai…look at me.” He reluctantly lifted his eyes to mine. “I am so sorry. Daddy did something wrong and hurt you. You told the truth. I got too angry. I should have listened more.”
Without hesitation, he whimpered, “It’s okay” and settled his arms around my chest and rested his head on my shoulder, still quivering.Into his ear I whispered, “I love you, bud.”
Into my neck he muttered, “I love you too.”
I can’t remember what it was that I was so angry about. But I can not forget that moment. While I hope to reduce my fatherly mistakes, I will fail and fail again. I will break promises, cancel plans, erupt in anger, and refuse to listen. I may not be able to give my child the gift of a perfect father. So I will give him the honor of forgiving his father.