Reb Tevya, the protagonist of Fiddler on the Roof, and I have at least three things in common: We’re fat, we’re low on cash, and we have five daughters. I spend way too much time bemoaning the first two of those conditions and not nearly enough appreciating the third.
Today is a special day for the Ghio clan, as we are likely on the stepping-off point for huge changes in our lives and our family dynamics. All of my girls are in town for Number Four’s quinceanera (that’s a Mexican 15th birthday party, for those of you unfortunate enough to be Yankees). Tonight Number Two heads back to BYU. Next week Number One leaves for her mission to Rome, Italy. For at least the next eighteen months, I won’t have all of my kiddos in one place, and who knows what the family will look like then? If I am fortunate enough to have more days like today, they will be rare treats.
All I’ve ever wanted to be was a dad. That sounds like nonsense, but it is true. My father and I were very close, and that relationship was incredibly important to me. I looked forward to having squids of my own and thought about what it would be like to be a dad myself. Mind you, my mental pictures all were of boy-type children, and even those in a manageable number, like two. Never did I imagine that I would have five daughters in the house, all competing for bathroom time and monopolizing the TV with iCarly and chick flicks.
Didn’t see this coming, but so glad that it did.
My daughters have been the great blessing of my life. Although I know you are never out of the woods with your kids (“enduring to the end” and all of that), my girls have presented so few challenges and offered so much joy. Most of the credit for that goes to my lovely wife, who has taught them to be strong, independent and clearly focused on their goals. Their husbands will have their hands full, but from a dad’s perspective, it is wonderful to have five daughters who refuse to be objectified or trivialized.
As I sit here listening to them this morning, so many memories bubble to the surface:
The nearly constant laughter that has echoed through this house for over twenty years.
Naps on the couch with a little girl stretched out beside me. Or two. Or three.
“Playing tiger” in the living room while my wife accurately prophesied that “one of you is going to get hurt again!”
The tension of an impossibly difficult project for work being broken up when the rejected pages of a brief turned into an epic paper ball fight that still elicits a huge grin from the eldest.
Late nights holding a sick girl, realizing that all I want in the world is for her to smile again.
Beautiful girls dancing on stage with their mother.
Quiet moments of teaching, consoling or counseling.
Reading together on the couch, in bed, in the car…wherever we can.
Standing in line for hours waiting for the newest Harry Potter book or Iron Man movie, embracing our Nerd Natures.
TV marathons reducing our minds to senseless gelatin.
Holding hands in a hospital room, blinking through the tears, and knowing that we survived. Together.
The joyful memories are incalculable, and they remind me that even though much of my life has not turned out exactly as I expected, the Lord has blessed me beyond measure where it matters the most: Within the walls of my home. I am grateful that our Father in Heaven’s plan for us includes Him letting us share in His greatest power and joy: Creating children, loving them beyond description, and striving to help them reach their divine potential.
The Clone. The Clown. The Monkey. The Angel. The Baby.
God bless each of you for letting me cry with joy today.