As I'm scrolling through the pictures I want to expound upon in this blog, I was reminded of the first thing Amelia said to me this summer. I came across the photo of my daughters in their black polka dotted dresses, standing in front of my parents' house. Amelia holding the colorful heart teddy bear I got her when she was two in her right hand and Amara's smiling face in her left. Their expressions mirroring mine behind the camera, the love shining as bright as the sun.
After embracing Amelia told me that my "voice was broken" referencing her teddy bear. I'm not sure if I'll ever forget the feeling of recording my voice for her to take back home. I remember hoping she'll remember me, in wake of it all I didn't know if or when I'll see her next. My heart sank and my body exhaled at the realization that my overwhelming fears were just phantom whispers of the failing familial dynamic of what I thought I wanted. An immeasurable feeling filled my spirit knowing that my sentimental gift gave her comfort.
The last three weeks of summer went as quick as MVP Derrick Rose, nestling in the routine of the day, digesting interactions. I took them to the trampoline park and I'm not sure if I was more excited for me or for them to experience it. As I was telling my coworkers they had to remind me to make sure I focus on them, but I don't think I listened too well. My sister and brother in-law came as well, and we bounced, laughed, and spoke like the grownups we saw in our youth.
There's a big pit with equally as big soft cubes, a wipe out zone mimicking the show, and even a full basketball court. I was baffled at the crowd around the courts. They were playing pick-up basketball on a trampoline, dunking on each other and blocking high arching shots. Amara loved jumping into the big pit, and it was evident if we didn't keep our eyes on her she would've been swallowed whole.
She almost did drown once, but daddy was there to save her. Like I promised her I'd always be.
Amelia and Amara went to summer camp/daycare at my job, and it took every ounce of me to not run to check on them. I was nervous because this was my first experience and I figured they had some trepidation as well, and I wanted to be there just in case. I did good for the most part but there were times that I had to watch them in real time interconnecting with their new friends and teachers.
One time Amara saw me, and I made the mistake of picking her up. I'm not sure how the rest of the day went after I put her back down, but I figure her teachers weren't too pleased with me as I walked away hearing her wail until I reached my car. I checked on Amelia when she went to the pool to try to encourage her to swim, but usually she wanted no parts of it. It made me chuckle each time because her mother used to use the excuse of her having swim lessons as to why I couldn't pick my baby up.
The girl still can't swim! Amelia has no basic knowledge of any swim technique, but I digress.
I had free time one day and decided to take Amelia to Wendy's for lunch. She actually wanted McDonald's, but I'm not a fan and she said that my choice would suffice. I didn't take Amara solely because of my aforementioned encounter, I had games that afternoon and into the evening. Couldn't have her strong little body fighting me.
Sometimes, even after almost an entire year, it's hard to believe that I got my Amelia again. While at lunch, and the entire summer truthfully, I sat back observed and listened. I heard all the stories she was telling me. I could tell when fact turned to fiction and details into hyperboles. I see now how we look to our parents when we start lying or trying to talk circles around someone 20 plus years our senior.
My smile never receded.
The last weekend to the greatest summer I took the girls to Wrightsville Beach in Wilmington, NC. I had to work that Saturday morning and headed to the beach afterwards while my daughter's road with my sister and brother-in-law to the beach. For me, there isn't much better than family time and I love when I get to be in my siblings and spouses' presence. Mainly when I have my kids because of our sibling pledge to be better than what we had experienced.
The girls had a blast! Digging in the sand and running from the cold water as it nipped at their heels. Screaming as we all raced, I, of course, let Amelia win. One day I plan to teach her the value of not only winning but losing. After being smacked by a few waves Amelia decided she rather stay closer to the sand while Amara enjoyed the waves while I held her tight. I wasn't sure how Amara would react to the beach because a year ago she wouldn't let the sand touch her, but I think watching her big sister had a lot to do with it.
Although I couldn't have asked for a better summer, I tussled internally. I decided before the summer commenced that I would take a break from podcasting and blogging to focus on my kids. The notion alone brought about thoughts of laziness, fears of never reaching maximum potential or achieving goals, and suggestions of being unworthy of my gift. I had to reason with myself, the summer would be like none other, and I wanted to be present for it. I had ideas of doing podcasts with my kids, but I really wanted to bask in the moment even though I still could have got around to it.
The undertones of the summer were Amelia's mother still causing problems after years of false allegations, empty threats, and broken promises. She's getting more than what she used to complain about but somehow, like being a single father, it just doesn't seem good enough.
Amelia and Amara, daddy loves you.