Seth turns 6 today, this joy of mine moves another year toward manhood. I have to tell you, I love this boy. I’m happy today, happiness mixed with a twinge of sorrow too.

I’m happy because I am overwhelmed with gratitude. For all his years, this one no less, Seth has offered me the gifts of laughter (like with his break-dancing) and mercy (his “I forgive you”) and honesty (“Dad, you hurt me”) and cuddles (still) – not to mention being my most faithful coffee pal. Seth (his innocence, his tenderness, his recklessness, his wide-hearted abandonment, his questions) remind me of what is good and wholesome in this world, that the whole botched thing actually isn’t irrevocably shot to pieces.

Seth helps me believe in God.

But I also feel sadness. Not for a year passed by or because of sentimental nostalgia. I am a bit melancholy because I realize that I have not been all I want to be for him this past year. I have not been as present, as generous, as playful, as courageous toward him as I long to be.

The thing about longing, though, is that it flings open the door to tomorrow. Regret pulls us back into the gloomy what-might-have-been, but longing invites us out into the sunshine of what-we-hope-yet-to-become. I’m choosing the longing.

And, Seth, I long to be your dad. Not just your authority figure or the old man who pays the bills. I don’t just want to be your chummy sidekick either. Far more than all that, I want to be your dad, the dad who loves you with all his heart and who believes in you, even more than you believe in yourself.

Happy Birthday, Son!

your dad – always.

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