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Over Christmas break God gave me the idea to put a bug in The Citadel Alumni group chat asking if anyone knew of any Charleston family lawyers. I received an immediate response, regardless of it being the holidays, and it so happened to be a fellow Physical Education grad who came and spoke to my class my Sophomore or Junior year. Suppressing the trepidation of dealing with another lawyer I finally mustered up the courage to call. I spoke with his assistant and we scheduled a consultation for the upcoming Friday at 2pm. I was nervous but still excited to try and get my papers back in the system and get some type of custody solidified.

That same day I received a video from Amara's mom, and it was Amara taking her first steps! I was ecstatic! I called and begged her to walk again but she rather hold the phone to hug and kiss me instead. I was driving to work and trying to keep my eyes on the phone not wanting to miss anything.

In the video I could tell Amara's excitement and realization in her new found ability. Before she took her first steps she was standing up more, bouncing up and down trying to wrap her mind around moving her foot. Her smile reached across her face as we all cheer on her development.

After watching the video multiple times I went to the family group chat on a texting application to share the news, by the time I opened the thread the video had already been sent and watched.

Even after a year, I'm still programmed from my former experience to relay all pictures and videos to my family. Otherwise, they wouldn't ever see it, fortunately, not in this case. And everytime, without fail, a full body exhale releases the pent up anxieties and frustration residing in peace.

A peace that has to fight its way through walls built in self defense to what has been normalized in my fatherhood experience. Adverse situations that created fears and barriers that are much harder to break down that put up.

I perceive things a lot better now than when Amara was first born, I used to accuse her mother of being the same as Amelia's mom. This obviously didn't help our relationship nor did it do anything for my sanity. I was used to constantly being on my toes and on the lookout for the negative traps set to keep me from my daughter.

It's like when you finally break free of a toxic relationship or try to turn from the type of women you used to be attracted to, when we found something better, it's almost like it's unreal. We are so used to, programmed to, what we have experienced for the last odd number of years. A lot of times, this leads people to sabotaging the relationship for fear of the unknown. Fear that better, isn't really better.

What's even worse is that, we can find someone new but be of the same faulty caliber and feel right at home. I remember going back to Amelia's mom and feeling a connection when the characteristics that broke us apart showed back up. It's the same for those who experienced some type of abuse, I've seen it over and over, they crave that same feeling.

It's crazy the way our mind works.

I called again a couple days later to Amara standing, and by the background noise she had already been walking. As soon as she saw me she lit up like I haven't seen her in years, without missing a beat she started taking steps towards the phone. Smiling and squealing she clapped her hands and reached out for the phone as her mom and I cheered.

I was expecting her to take a couple steps and fall down but she made it to about five steps before collapsing on her tendonless legs. With the Marshall blood coursing through her veins she bounced right back up and continued walking towards the phone. Her mom was backpedaling in a circle to ensure Amara will keep walking in the tight space.

After she walked for a good 30 seconds straight her mom preceded to tell me that's the longest she has walked so far, seemed as if she was showing out for me. Urging me to come watch her walk in person so I can embrace her with all the love that I have.

With the distance, I embraced the fact that my daughter wanted to show me how well she could put one foot in from of the other. I could tell in the way her face happily contorted and her eyes beamed brightly. Amara definitely knows who I am, there's no doubting that.

I had another canceled interview for my For Fathers Podcast, and was forced to talk to the mic by myself. I dabbled in some red wine as I spoke, diving into current events and incessant fears. I still get the jitters when it's time to record as if it was the first episode again, back when I hadn't a clue.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to keep Amara this past weekend due to me having to work and my parents having prior plans as well. I hate when I have to miss out, forced to be a FaceTime dad. Which is touchy for me, I much rather have the up close and personal time to make sure she knows how much I love her.

I realize a lot of my actions come from a place of prevention, trying not to go down the same paths and trudge through familiar sentiments. I fear that it'll prevent me from moving forward in life and relationships sometimes so I make it a point to hone in on this coping mechanism.

Another reason I couldn't get Amara was because I had a basketball game on Saturday night, playing with the Raleigh Firebirds and other teams. It was more like a controlled pick up game, there was a G-League scout who showed us four plays that he wanted to see if we could run.

I can tell the difference in last year and this when I had a lot more time to put extra work in and the Coronavirus wasn't in the way. It seems a lot harder this time to find my basketball rhythm with leading class all morning from home. Now, the Middle School basketball season is about to start and we are doing group trainings with a max of 15 kids on each side of the gym.

We had a meeting today to discuss layouts and to address any questions or concerns. As I listened, I started to mentally plan how I could utilize one side of the gym and what drills will be effective. They said that we have an hour and a half for the workout, which is 30 more minutes than what I usually do individual lessons for. I figure I can plan like an individual session which will accommodate for the extra bodies.

I'm excited and can't wait to see what new talent walks into the gym, it's always a new opportunity to better teach my daughters. In basketball, and more importantly in life.

Amelia and Amara, daddy loves you.

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