The bittersweet, exhilarating, agonizing angst of change – daddy style

I am father.  I have three children, a son (14), and two daughters (12 &10).  They are growing up way too fast. Way. It's a reality of our perception that time really does "fly". From the overarching umbrella of our swift lifespan to the smaller moments underneath, time flies.

My grandmother passed away last week at the age of 90.  She always referred to the accelerated passage of time. As I age, I too am increasingly aware of that fact.

It's a bittersweet, exhilarating, agonizing angst. Change is inevitable and it takes courage to move through it wisely and with meaning. It requires persistent adaptation. For every wave of goodbye to a one moment is an inevitable hello to another (whether we like it or not).  My grandmother lived from moment to moment in the brief narrative of her life, each passing a bittersweet, exhilarating, agonizing angst – up until her final passage.

From the peculiar perspective of a father I am smack dab in the middle of this bittersweet turmoil. My son started high school this year.  He was home-schooled from sixth to eight grade.  I always joked that I was his junior high buddy then.  My wife could vouched for the often "immature" moments we shared together. Those days are gone…or at least transformed into something uncertain and new.

My daughters still have a bit of time in our home, as they grow up and learn.  But dang it, it's going fast. My youngest always wants a princess kiss, like in the movies, every night before she goes to bed. I'm going to indulge that desire as long as I can, because change happens swiftly and you just never know. I was recently introduced to a song by Steven Curtis Chapman entitled, "Cinderella". He lost his 5 year old  daughter Maria Chapman in a tragic accident in the family‚Äôs driveway.

I've included it here along with the lyrics at the bottom. It reminds me of the song "Cat's in the Cradle" (a real "angster" if you have sons) by Harry Chapin. If you're a father and you have young children (particularly daughters), I dare you to listen to it and not be overwhelmed with the angst…

Lyrics::
She spins and she sways
To whatever song plays
Without a care in the world
And I'm sitting here wearing
The weight of the world on my shoulders

It's been a long day
And there's still work to do
She's pulling at me
Saying "Dad, I need you

There's a ball at the castle
And I've been invited
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone…

She says he's a nice guy and I'd be impressed
She wants to know if I approve of the dress
She says, "Dad, the prom is just one week away
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

She will be gone

Well, she came home today with a ring on her hand
Just glowing and telling us all they had planned
She says, "Dad, the wedding's still six months away
But I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

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Posted in adaptation, Attitude, Change, courage, Fathers, Modification, Relationships, resilience

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Jeff Vankooten is a speaker and author focusing on the power of resilience to effectively engage the challenges of change. He helps leaders, businesses, and organizations develop the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly unpredictable business environment.
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