Through a miracle I do not completely understand, my DNA mixed with that of my wife, the ingredients baked in a special oven, and when the timer dinged, out popped a little bundle of joy. I know there is much more to the process of having children, but for this discussion we will keep it simple. Many men can become fathers, but it takes a special breed to achieve Dad status.
Prospective candidates for the office need some idea of what to expect. Trial and error are the norm and on the job training is a must. Opportunities abound for the man ready to face the challenges but humility and a willingness to admit we don’t have all the answers are crucial to our success as Dads. And in my experience, a dependence on the wisdom and help of Almighty God always makes the difference.
My life changed forever as I held Amanda, a 7 pound 6.5 ounce miracle, for the first time. She was ready to be imprinted with ideas, knowledge, facts, humor, Dad-isms, and all the stuff I had to offer. She came with her own talents and interests. She sported a unique personality. Together we began a journey to discover as much about her as we could. None of us is born knowing the complete list of our gifts and abilities. Life is an adventurous discovery of figuring out what we have to offer those around us. As my daughter matured, she became the director of her own journey and progressed far beyond the place I could take her.
Dads, much of our responsibility toward our children comes in providing resources and experiences to help them discover who and what they are. We make a safe place for them, a home. We love their Momma unconditionally. We teach important skills like throwing a ball, riding a bike, and making disgusting noises with our arm pits. We encourage our children to stretch out and try new things. We watch and observe. We coach and advise. We stay involved. Amanda’s journey took her into music and art, areas where I had little to offer. My role was to open the doors of opportunity then step aside and let her venture forward. Of course, I was close by, cheering her each step of the way.
Recently Amanda expressed a desire to experiment with gardening at her home and sought advice on the best way to proceed. What an awesome opportunity for me to come alongside and help. I know a thing or two about gardening and I know a thing or two about Amanda. What she needs is an empty garden space, prepared for her to fill in as she investigates, researches, and acquires her plants. As an artist, she has a mind full of ideas and possibilities. Given a blank canvas and time, her creativity will lead to a masterpiece. And my mission, which I was overjoyed to accept, is to help her create that blank canvas.
Soil preparation can be a daunting task, especially when the garden site has the look and consistency of red concrete. I stepped into the nearest phone booth, changed into my tights and … realized for the size garden we wanted, it was time to rent some help. We met at the rental facility and picked up the cutest little tiller.
I started the tiller and started working the soil beside the curb. Gloom welled up as I thought, “It’s going to be a long day!” The little Honda bounced on the clay and did little in the way of gardening. Tim the Tool Man would tell me I need more power but I had another trick to try.
Amanda stretched her hose into the garden and watered the clay for me. The soil needed to be damp, not muddy. The difference was instantaneous and amazing. The Little Honda That Could, did. We were making progress.
It was time to share the fun and let Amanda and Shawn take a turn. Note the smiles as they drove that powerful tiller and busted those clods.
In my tool arsenal I have a Mantis, one of the best garden investments I ever made. It is lighter than the tiller but was just the ticket to grind the soil finer. Amanda and “Elmo”, as we call him, bonded and became best friends.
(In case you have never heard of Mantis, visit their site. http://mantis.com/mantis-2-cycle-tiller.asp)
We are plowing together and discussing the weather and the government, like any serious farm workers. The garden is looking like a garden should.
OK, the first pass is complete.
We have a new set of muscles on the job. Daniel is a natural and I would swear he has tilled before. He did the second pass and covered the places we missed earlier. I was glad for a break and switched over to Elmo, giving Amanda a break.
Our plan was to pick up a yard or 2 of compost at the local garden center, but their machinery was down. We cleaned up, ate lunch, and called it quits for the day.
Amanda ordered 6 yards of compost and had it delivered. Three days passed.
The humidity is up and there are nice chunks of manure in the mix. Ammonia burned the nostrils while sweat trickled down the face. Life does not get better than this for one who likes to be in the garden.
My dear wife asked me to explain the proper method of spreading compost. Being a simple and logical person, I advised her we should do it one shovel at a time. Cover the red clay with black compost, till it in and repeat until the big pile disappears.
All for one and one for all! We determined to buckle down and spread some compost. And did we ever!
Two hours later, we were cleaning up.
What a precious picture – the lovely couple spreading flower seeds in their new garden!
Amanda gently tucks those seeds into the soil. We spread a layer of pine straw to prevent erosion. Then we picked up the tools, and marveled at what can be accomplished when we set our minds to it.
Here’s another blank canvas for you, darling daughter. Go create something spectacular.
I love being a Dad!