“Daddy, you’re my friend.”

We were at Panera’s for dinner. I was still feeling off underneath from a flat couple days and a stressful afternoon, but it was hard not to smile and laugh with her hamming it up, dancing and making faces while she ate. Two special moments were poised and ready…

The first was when, out-of-the-blue, she said…

Her – “You know, Daddy, you’re my friend.”

Me – “Yeah? Why am I your friend?”

Her – “Because you’re learning about it.”

Me – “Learning about what?”

Her – “Loving.”

Wow. Don’t remember what she added onto that when I probed for more.

She’s right. That’s what I’m learning about through parenting. It’s a paradox because I already love her more than anything I could ever articulate, but I’m learning about how to be unconditionally loving in the thick of being a committed parent. Saying “I love you” may be sweet, but it’s easy. Conscious parenting is about your way of being and your involvement day-to-day. Our best days are, simply put, the days when I am in my most loving space with her, joining her in the space in which she almost always resides. She, obviously, already has this all figured out.

Although I have my off moments as a parent, including tonight when I got very frustrated with the sight of clothes, shoes and the remnants of snacks left out in the great room, I am largely in a good space, and increasingly in a very warm, connected and playful space. If I were to graph my growth in being loving in the thick of parenting challenges, it would show a steady incline with, admittedly, some spikes. Regardless, it bodes well…

The second moment was when I prodded her to go up to the counter by herself on the other side of the restaurant and ask for a to-go box.

“You say… excuse me, may I have a to-go box, please.” We’ve been doing little boldness sorties like this for the last few months especially as I’ve noticed some social shyness. She was feeling good and ready for the mission. “I’m going to be fearless!” she said. Beautiful. Off she went. When she was about twenty feet away, she turned around in the middle of the restaurant, pumped her fist and scrunched her face as if to say, “Yeah. I got this!” I chuckled, but, on the inside, my heart beat out “That’s my girl.” in M.O.R.S.E. code.

Moments later, I saw her fingers pulling herself up over the counter. She returned proudly with the spoil from her quest, and I was ready with both arms in the air celebrating her courage. Only problem was that it was dirty. “Go ask for another one.” She told me she could just wipe it off, but I insisted. “You deserve a clean one.” When she got back, I said, “That’s it. Do you deserve good things?” She said yes. “Yes, you do. Don’t settle. Okay?” She nodded.

Telling me I’m learning about love and that fearless fist pump. Moments to remember…

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