As I watch my oldest daughter prepare for college, I realize just how fast the past 17 years have flown by. The memories of my baby girl are fading and have been replaced by images of a young woman who is a beautiful amalgamation of my wife and me. While I want oh so badly to hold on to my first born, she no longer fits in the palm of my hands. I have to let go. But letting go isn’t easy. Actually, letting go is hard.
I want to wrap her up in my arms to protect her from hurt, disappointment, and harm. I want to reverse time and rock her to sleep on my shoulder, or play dolls, or watch endless episodes of Barney together. But I have to let go. My arms aren’t wide enough to contain all that God has in store for her. But as a dad, I cannot let go completely. I still want to have a strong connection with my daughter even if she’s too old for piggyback rides. That’s why I started my Dear Dre project.
On my daughter’s birthday, I decided to write her a weekly letter to say everything I wished I could have or should have said over the years. I think it was of the best decisions I ever made. Over the past 30+ weeks I have written on a variety of topics, but each letter starts off with Dear Dre, and ends with a Daddy Tip and a scripture. It is my way of preaching, teaching, and equipping the soon to be young adult who used to fall asleep drooling on my chest.
Here are a few of the Daddy Tips I’ve shared with her:
The Dear Dre letters are more than words on a page. They are a way of sharing my soul, my hopes, and my dreams with the little lady that will one day have children of her own. Dear Dre is a two-way conduit which has also gives my daughter a way to express herself and respond to her daddy when the timing is right.
Oddly enough neither one of us ever gives the other one a letter directly. It is a strange dance between father and daughter. The letters magically appear on a work desk, on a bedroom pillow, on luggage before a long trip, and sometimes on the bathroom sink. There is an understanding that tough questions can be asked via these letters and advice can be given in a manner that is loving, well thought out, and without a sense of condemnation.
I am so thankful that I decided to jot down a few words on a page for my daughter during this, her senior year in high school. Now I have to decide what to do for my son as he enters high school. Maybe I will start writing to him a little earlier. I don’t know. Maybe the letters to my daughter will continue, just maybe not at the weekly pace. Who knows. We will have to see. I do know that the words on the page won’t be empty, but they will be a way of ensuring that my kids not only have a sense of who I am, but they also have a template to help them become the best that they can be.
Final Daddy Tip: Spend time with your kids and create memories. They will last longer than any toy or object you will purchase for them.