by Dave Markwell

I have an alarm set on my phone for 3:30 pm. I didn’t set this alarm. I suspect my daughter set it to remind me to pick her up from school back in the days when I used to walk over to the elementary school every day and walk home with her. I keep this alarm because the reminder note says “Love you”. This alarm has been on my phone for many years and will not leave until my phone dies or I do.

Today is my daughter’s twelfth birthday. As I reminisce on this day twelve years ago, I recall standing stiff-legged behind my wife as she hunkered over the hospital bed like a cavewoman while our slimy little bundle of joy came into this world. Everything changed in that moment. As I cut the umbilical cord, it was as if I somehow attached it to myself, but instead of me feeding my baby life, she fed me.

We love these damn kids so much, yet they drive us so mad. My daughter is a complicated one. Our relationship is a complicated one. Her moods shift between indifference to outright hostility. None of which bothers me in the slightest (most of the time…). This is because I love her regardless; regardless of her being nice or polite or kind to me. I know that she loves me, but I also know that I love her more. This is the way it always is. Parents love their kids more.

Now, I love my parents very much, but my kids are different. It’s a different love and it’s a love that I don’t expect to receive from my kids. They don’t have it. They can’t. I hope they get it and then “get it”, but until then I will just be happy loving them more without condition.

A couple of days ago, I bought my baby girl a necklace that I was excited to give to her on her birthday. As she opened it this morning, she smiled and placed it back in the neat little felt pocket it came in and said, “I like it, but I don’t really wear jewelry”. And so it went. I smiled and poured her some juice. I was unfazed by her indifference. I have come to expect it. But, that’s the beauty of true unconditional love; the gift of giving something that I knew was kind of special was really a gift to me. I knew it meant something, independent of her response. I felt good anyway, because I love her more.

So, on this birthday, I am reminded of the many ways that I was “born”, too. My girl has touched me and taught me and sometimes tortured me, but I am different because of her. I understand important things. I know how much love is possible. And I know how much forgiveness is possible. And patience. And frustration. And giving when I don’t feel like it. She has taught me more that I can teach her and I am proud to love her more. She is the sunbeam that lights the sometimes dim path of my life and she sheds a beautiful light…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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