I already had three sisters when I was born. There are some gaps in the ages in our family, so my sisters were 14, 7 and 2. My first brother was born when I was 2 years old and before long we were sharing a room. Being born into a household where there is already a teenage resulted in my always having a sense of specific boundaries in the relationships between men and women. There were some specific prohibitions that we learned to observe. The bedrooms of my sisters were out of bounds. And we learned that a boy was never, repeat NEVER, allowed to look in a woman’s purse. We all, regardless of our gender, had our privacy respected in my family. As a result, I grew up with a sense of mystery about the differences between men and women.

Ours was not, however, a household with rigid boundaries when it came to tasks and work. My parents were business partners and my mother was very involved in the day to day operation of my father’s businesses. She understood the inner workings of the business and we all knew that her work for the company was as important to our family as her work in the home. My folks, did, however, divide up chores along somewhat traditional lines. My mother was the better and more often cook. She did the baking and the laundry and much of the cleaning inside of the house. My father took the lead with home repairs and the garden. He also worked long hours outside of the home. As the oldest boy in the family, I was often allowed to go to work with my father and therefore escaped some of the household chores that fell to my sisters and instead had small jobs and chores around the shop more than they.

My wife grew up in a family that had only daughters. Three sisters who remain very close to each other even though they have lived in different cities all of their adult lives. Growing up in the age of the telephone, the phone is still their primary choice when it come to keeping in touch. They also exchange email and connect through social media, but the phone is still very important in their relationships.

In other ways, my family and that of my wife were very similar. We grew up in the same denomination of Christianity with parents who were very involved in the local church and also served in the Conference. We met at church camp, which was a special and important place in our upbringing. Our families were of similar socio-economic background and both of our fathers had grown up on North Dakota farms. Education was important to both families and we grew up with the expectation that we would graduate from college. It was in college where we refined and strengthened our relationship. We were college students when we married.

That sense of familiarity and mystery has been an important dynamic in our relationship throughout our adult lives.

In the mystery workings of God’s creation, we were blessed to have two children: one boy and one girl. And it has been a deep blessing. I treasure my relationships with our children. I know that it is a bit cliché, but there is something very, very special about the bond between me and my daughter. It was absolutely love at first sight when I first held her and as she grew up we had lots of opportunities to do special father-daughter activities. Her mother and brother liked to sleep in a bit in the morning and we would often get up and have some special time before the others got out of bed. When she was a school girl we would ride our bikes to a local restaurant for breakfast on Saturday mornings from time to time. When she was a teen, we would take a canoe to the lake for an early morning paddle, singing at the top of our voices to the songs on the car stereo as we came and went.

There have been, of course, tensions and differences. Her early years of dating were a bit tough on me and I found myself biting my tongue a few times. I was less than impressed by some of the young men she met. When she went away to college she suffered from some depression and I wasn’t completely aware of how hard that time was for her until later. We were always close nonetheless. When she married, I was very taken with her choice and her husband is a wonderful man whose love and care for her is evident and strong.

So when our son became a father, first of a son and then of a daughter, I was delighted. I had so enjoyed having both a son and a daughter that I wanted him to share the experience. Now that our granddaughter is 2, I delight in watching their growing relationship. The uniqueness of each of his children means that he has developed a different style of playing with each. Some of the toys are the same, but the games are often different. His son, being older, has the capacity to delight our son with words and they enjoy playing word games, making up silly rhymes. His daughter expresses herself less in words at this point, though she is currently going through an explosion of language learning. She loves to tickle her father and elicit a giggle.

I know how fleeting these moments of childhood are. As we visit our daughter and son-in-law and feel the comfortable hospitality of their home I am deeply aware of how quickly the years have passed. They will go quickly for our grandchildren as well. What doesn’t change is the love and the joy of family. I am filled with gratitude and reminded how much it restores my spirit to spend time with our adult children.

The father-daughter bond is truly one of the great wonders of this world.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!