The big day had come, and we were supposed to help Olivia pack up all of her things, load them into my, ute, and head out to drop her off at her 18-month long internship about an hour and 15 minutes north of where we live. These events are milestone events in the life of a family, and especially when it is your only girl as a dad, they are super special. We had been looking forward to this day with anticipation for a very long time. We’re super excited for Olivia as we watched her apply for this internship and then wait for many months to see if she was accepted. We celebrated when she got the acceptance email, and we’re eagerly anticipating the start of this next chapter in her life. So you can imagine we had big expectations of what this day would be. We had created some images and pictures in our minds of dropping her off, building her bed, setting up her room, praying for her in her new space, having lunch with her and the new crew that she will be working with, and touring the property where she’ll be working. We were super excited for her! As you can imagine, the devastating news that both Kristen and I had Covid made the week leading up to this day very disappointing, knowing that we would have to miss out on a milestone day and the activities it would involve. So reflecting over the day and all the missed expectations taught me a few lessons that I thought I would share.
- Please don’t abandon the moment; make it more memorable. Even though the day didn’t go as expected, we could still make it an extraordinary and meaningful occasion. So like most days over the past two years, we have had to pivot and adjust and make the event meaningful and purposeful, and intentional in different ways than what we had expected, but we didn’t abandon the whole experience. We modified and adjusted it to make it meaningful and memorable anyway. We prayed over Olivia standing far away from each other in the driveway and took photos of her brothers and her boyfriend loading the truck and taking her off to her new adventure. It was so meaningful! Once the crew had arrived at her new home, Olivia face timed us to give us a tour of her new home, and we laughed at the boys as they tried to help her set up her furniture, which never goes to plan.
- Please don’t rush past the pain and grief; discover what you are feeling and why you feel that way. After they left, Kristin and I came back into the house; we sat and cried together for a little while. Instead of moving on quickly to something that I ‘needed’ to get done (my default distraction is to be productive – it’s where I get my false sense of worth from), I chose to sit in the sorrow and the grief and explore how I was feeling along with how Kristen was feeling. Asking each other how we were feeling and why we were feeling that way was one of the most beautiful and memorable moments that we have had together in our parenting. It is a conversation that I will never forget, and I’m so glad that I didn’t move on to just getting something done. I think it’s essential to sit long enough in your grief to experience what you are feeling and why, but not so long that you become despairing. That’s a fine line and one you must give your complete attention to. I realised that I was feeling the grief and loss so significantly because of the incredible moments that we had together with Olivia while she was still living under our roof. We reminisced about all of these great moments, the gifts that God has given us with our time together. Olivia has always been my date to restaurants and places that Kristen would refuse to go to, lol. It’s why Olivia and I love going to the Olive Garden together for great Italian food! It’s why Olivia and I love grabbing a sushi lunch together. Olivia will always be my go-to date for the places Kristin loves to hate. (Yes, that rhymes)The reason that we grieve so hard is that we played so hard together and enjoyed it!
- Please don’t live in regret; create new adventures together. At some point, I began to regret having not done as many things or spent as much time with Olivia as I “could have.” But after further consideration, that was not the truth. I realised my desire to spend more time together and do more things is because of all the time we spent together and everything we did do together. So I won’t live in regrets, but instead, I will continue to do all of the things that I loved with her. That’s why I’m already planning dates with her (she’s only a little over an hour away). So we will continue to go on sushi dates, and I will drive up early in the morning and take her out for coffee. We will continue to invest in the beautiful relationship that God has given a dad and his daughter.
- The location and the relationship status may have changed, but the relationship is still there. So cheers to becoming more of a coach and less parent. This change is beautiful because we want Olivia to be the person that God has created her to be. The incredible independent leader that she is! So I’m celebrating this new season because the previous season was a huge success and this next season will be too. I’m choosing to celebrate what God has given us in the past season, and I’m looking forward with great anticipation to the next season with her.Olivia – my forever date to everything your mum loves to hate. I love you, Olivia Marian, and I am your biggest fan! Love you, Dad.