Dear Caroline,

Today you’re the size of a small pumpkin, like the ones you, your mom, and I will paint funny faces on and put on the doorstep the day before Halloween. We’ll have a good time, the four of us. Yes, I’m counting the cat.

Today is also Father’s Day. I guess this is my first Father’s Day as a father. You should know I have mixed feelings about this, because it means your arrival is coming within the month, and I’m not ready. Sure, we have all the gadgets and carriers to bring you home, and your room is the front page of a Pottery Barn magazine. But mentally, I’m not ready. Spiritually, I’m not ready. It’s not that I don’t have enough faith; it’s that I have too much fear.

What am I afraid of? Well, I’m afraid of letting you down. You’re a preacher’s kid, after all, which means you will inevitably get used to being let down: by me, by the church, and by my choice of career.  What if I become the reason you hate the Fifth Commandment: thou shalt honor your mother and father? What if I become that father, the one that no child wants to celebrate on Father’s Day? What if Father’s Day becomes an annual reminder of your disappointment and my failure?

But I guess it’s not about me, is it? And honestly, dear, it’s not about you.
I think it’s about the Second Commandment: you will not make idols.
I confess I have already made an idol out of you, in utero. I have made you my personal god. I’m drawing my self-worth and self-identity from you, and I’m sorry. That’s too much pressure to put on you. I’ll work on that.

I’ve also made an idol out of fatherhood. I’m sorry about that, too. I really want to be a father, I really do, but I don’t want to draw my self-worth from fatherhood, either, because that’s putting too much pressure on myself. Does that make sense? I promise I won’t love you any less.

When I fail, Caroline, and I will fail, please know that you have a three-person parenting team: me, your mother, and God. God is the star player and the best possible parent. His love will prevail where mine falls short.
I promise I will give you all I have to give and then some, but that can’t compare with what God can give you. He will mend the parts of your heart that I’m afraid I cannot; though knowing me, I will try.

We will have a great life, the five of us. Yes, I’m including God. And the cat.

Love always,