Fatherhood outside St. Mary's and inside Walmart...
(Prince) William says he practiced making sure the car seat fit securely before driving off. "Driving your son and your wife away from hospital was really important to me," he said.
Standing in line at Walmart, I watched a normal Joe ahead of me buying his daughter her school supplies. The man helped his eight-year-old daughter transfer pencils, notebooks, and other stuff I didn't recognize from the cart onto the small 20-items-or-less checkout counter. Halfway through the piling up, the girl looked up at her Dad and demonstrated her budding gift for commanding the male sex: "Dad, let me do it!"
He acted like he hadn't heard and, thankfully, Her Royal Highness didn't protest again. Last on the pile was the annual backpack with this year's graphics and colors. Then, having accomplished her part of the mission, the girl walked a few feet and sat down on a bench from whence she surveyed her domain and awaited her father's duty of paying for her life and happiness. You know, money.
Dad wasn't tall and wore shorts hanging down to his calves. Nothing notable in his looks or clothing, nor in the way he fulfilled the privileges of fatherhood. As he ran his credit card and punched buttons, the cashier smiled and asked if school was starting this week?
He said "yup, Tuesday" and they exchanged conspiratorial looks of knowingness. I thought for a second about getting down on my knees and pleading with this innocent father not to send his precious daughter... to the soul-shredding temples of secularism and God-hatred that are most public schools today, but I didn't have the heart for it.
Instead, my mind wandered afield to thoughts of God's inestimable kindness in giving us daughters. Sons too—but especially daughters. How they soften us up! Whether they're newborn or ten, twenty, or thirty years old, what joy they bring us! Blushes and pimples are equally beautiful and, when we hug them, we nuzzle their sweet-smelling hair and all is well in God's world. So precious to us.
These were my thoughts there in Walmart. In our age of sexual depredations, may I still speak this way without offending the righteous?
Then I thought that this moment in this man's life was just a single act of kindness from God that is reproduced every time a man loves a woman fruitfully and is presented a daughter by His wife through the providence of God Almighty. In a few years that man luxuriates in the glorious privilege of driving her to Walmart to get her school supplies. There is no greater joy in life. Honestly.
Unless it's figuring out how to plug in the car seat, strap in your newborn ever so gently, then turn to hold your child's mother's hand as she climbs onto the passenger seat ever so gingerly for the ride home from St. Mary's Hospital. Again, no greater joy.
With fatherhood, it matters not a bit whether it's the joy of a prince or a fading shrimp of a wannabe jock at Walmart. They're both agreed and the cashier takes joy watching. What grandmother doesn't love every dutiful father? He's joyful. The mother of his newborn child is joyful as she watches his tenderness. The world looks on and even the jaded rejoice. The kingdom is reunited as it watches the prince's joy. And, over here in every last Walmart, the meek and lowly are delighted as they watch the eight-year-old order her father, "Dad, let me do it."
It was inevitable, though, that as the father pushed the cart toward the door and his daughter descended from her throne to join him, my mind turned to Reformed sub-Christians who train their daughters to disdain fruitfulness. Presbyterian churches today have taught their daughters to hate the vulnerability of true wifehood and motherhood. We despise the thought of our daughters wasting their beauty, brilliance, and great importance on marriage, home, and motherhood.
The first rule of Reformed childrearing is "My daughter will never ever be just a housewife and mother. She's made for excellence and I mean to force her to pursue it."
I say "force" because, again and again, young Reformed college freshman, both Christian schooled and home schooled, respond with great joy when we teach them from Scripture that God has commanded us to be fruitful and multiply, and that He desires Christian marriage to propagate a godly seed. "You mean I can aspire to be a housewife and mother?!?! I've never heard that before! You're telling me that's enough? I'm not wasting my life by doing what, in the deepest part of my heart, I've always wanted more than anything else? O happy day!"
There's no doubt in my mind that the young father running his credit card at Walmart as his daughter waits and the cashier smiles at him tenderly is closer to the Kingdom of Heaven than all the Reformed lawyers, professorettes, and engineers who know how to pronounce "sovereign" and eagerly await Crossway's Gospel Transformation Bible while training their daughters to pursue that bitch goddess of success we call "excellence."
I love vulnerable mothers who are dependent on their husbands. I love daughters whose mothers have taught them to boss their fathers around. I love school supplies. I love pregnancy and birth and babies. And in each of these, I'm in lockstep with every prior generation of God's Covenant People.
Who gives a you-know-what about excellence and brilliance when a newborn baby—yea, a newborn baby daughter—is the alternative.
Here's to you, Michal and Heidi and Heather and Hannah and Emily and Amanda and Dawn and Nicole and Anna and Becky and Joyce and Laura and...
My precious Mary Lee.