Post one of my series “My Life as a P.K.” Feel free to read my introductory post to this series to see what it’s all about.
I heard the key in the lock. “Daddy’s home” I thought to myself. This was one of my favorite moments of the day as a little girl. Dad would walk in the door as Father Jim, dressed head to toe in black with just a sliver of a white collar around his neck. His job was being a Father, but when he walked in the door he was my daddy. After he said “hi” and gave hugs to my sisters and I, my parents usually went back to their room to have a few minutes to talk about their days. My two favorite people being unavailable to me and the anticipation of how dad would be dressed when they came out made this the longest 10 minutes of my little elementary school life. Would he be wearing Daddy clothes or still be in Father clothes?
Father clothes were his black clergy shirt with a white collar. Daddy clothes (anything casual) held a much more significant meaning to me. When Dad would come home and change into shorts and a t-shirt it meant for that evening I only had to share him with my sisters and my mom. It meant that he was available to help me with homework, to play, to read Lord of the Rings or the Chronicles of Narnia. It also meant that he could tuck me in, say prayers with me, and tell me a story (he is an amazing storyteller).
If he stayed in his Father clothes it meant that he was only home for a few minutes. Often it meant that he was home for a quick dinner but then he was needed elsewhere. People needed their Father, so I would share my Daddy.
This is an interesting way to learn the concept of sharing and it did not come easily. I remember clearly the disappointment I would feel if he received a phone call that would require him to change back into his Father clothes. I had no ability as a small child to understand that someone having a crisis (going to the hospital, death in the family, etc.) was more important in that moment than helping me with my math homework or wrestling or building huge blanket forts in the living room.
I was lucky that my dad did his best to balance being a Father and being a Daddy. He certainly made his relationship with the family a huge priority. We had a few intentional rules to keep to keep it that way, the one I remember most clearly was that if the phone rang during dinner (WAY back when the only way to call someone was a landline or beeper) it was not answered until everyone was finished eating and the dishes were being done.
If you are a pastor with small children, please find ways to set aside church business, and put on your “daddy clothes” whatever that means for you and your family. It will mean the world to your kids.