This picture was taken in December of 2000...almost 8 years ago. That's pretty much how things looked tonight as I put Amanda to bed (except that she is bigger now and I have more hair on my face and less on my head!).
One of my favorite times of the day is when Amanda goes to bed. We have a routine. Amanda gets ready for bed (usually "forgetting" as many things as possible so that she can "remember" them just before she is supposed to get into bed), kisses her Mommy good night and then tells me she is ready for bed. I give her a head start and then crawl into bed beside her. I pray with her and then we spend a few minutes talking. The few minutes could stretch into hours if I let them because Amanda hardly ever thinks she is sleepy, but we usually spend 10-20 minutes talking before I make her close her eyes and go to sleep. And then I lay there and sometimes fall asleep myself. Either I wake myself up, kiss her forehead and leave her for the night, or I start snoring, she elbows me, I wake up, kiss her forehead and leave her for the night.
It is those 10-20 minutes that remind me how awesome it is to be a Daddy. At least for now, one of Amanda's favorite things to do during this time is to ask me to tell stories about when I was growing up. "Tell me an animal story, Daddy" (we had LOTS of pets growing up) or "Tell me what was your favorite..." If we have just discussed lying (as in why Amanda shall never ever do that again if she wants to live to be 10 years old!), she asks me to tell as story about when I got caught lying as a kid. Sometimes I just have to tell her I can't remember any more stories. After doing this over the years, it is hard to remember a story I haven't told!
Amanda is growing up (without my permission!), and she is developing a life of her own with her friends, etc. As we lay in bed tonight talking about how excited we are that Mommy is coming home tomorrow night, I wondered how long we would have our special time before bed each night. As a teenager in too-few-years, will she want to make room for Daddy to squeeze into bed, pray with her and talk about anything and everything that is on her mind? I am sure some things will change, but I'm planning on something similar happening when my baby is in high school.
So I look at 8:30-9:00 PM as a high light of my day, and an investment in the future. When we found out that Brooke was pregnant, my heart was drawn to being a Daddy to a little girl. I don't know why it was that way, but God answered the desire of my heart. (Hmmm...now I wonder. Did God give me a girl because I wanted to be a Daddy to a little girl, or did he give me a heart to be a little girl's Daddy because that is what I was getting? Oh well, it worked out PERFECT either way!)
So my 20 minutes tonight got me to thinking how truly blessed I am. Being a husband to my wife and a Daddy to my little girl...what else could I ask for?