I’m not one for Christian schmaltz, but over the last couple of days I’ve caught myself reflecting on that well-known poem/meditation ‘Footprints in the Sand‘. The reason for this slip towards spiritual sentimentality was brought on by a weeks stay on the coast with my family. My two year old daughter, Liberty, wasn’t that enamoured by the waves breaking on the foreshore, which doesn’t make for a great time when you’re taking your summer vacation by the sea. We made the most of our time by looking for creatures in rock pools and clambering over the base of the cliffs, which I found a little daunting with a toddler in tow. But somehow the sea kept drawing me. Paddling with waves lapping at your ankles is what a father and daughter should be doing on the beach. In any case, it’s a father’s responsibility to help their child overcome their fears so that they can enjoy the small wonders of this world.
So, on the final day of our holiday we took a trip out to a small cove, the sheltered nature of which meant that the waves were less of a threat to the slight stature of our two year old. Aware of her fear, I took Liberty in my arms and waded into the shallows. We stood for a few minutes, surrounded by the sea, before I finally placed her in the gently breaking waves – and there we played together on the final afternoon of our vacation, leaving two sets of footprints in the sand.
Sometimes a father needs to carry their child. But most of the time, their loving responsibility is to put them down, to face their fears and discover the joy of being independently alive.