Part of the Family

On vacation at Capon Springs two weeks ago, Uncle Matt and Aunt Sallie had reserved the exercise pool at the spa for a family swim. They were taking my niece and nephew for a little mom and dad time.

Right before they went, Stephanie ran into our room.

"What are you up to?" I asked.

"I'm going to the spa with Uncle Matt and Aunt Sallie. They're going on a family swim."

"Honey, they need some time alone with their kids. I don't think you should barge in. Don't change your clothes." A look of disapproval crossed her brow.

A few minutes later a knock came on the door. It was Sallie. "Where's Stephanie? We're about to go."

Stephanie opened the door. "Dad won't let me go."

"Why can't she go?" Sallie inquired.

"You guys need some family time away from my kids."

"Lucy is part of our family." The emphasis was on the is.

What a wonderful be part of a family.

A week before that, I was having a conversation with DJ. I always harp on her about wearing seat belts and never riding with someone who has been drinking. Then I play what if...

"What if you were at a party and your ride home got drunk? What would you do?"

Without hesitation she said, "I'd call Ms. B."

"Your old cheerleading coach?"

"Yeah. She told me I could call her any time I needed her. Or I'd call Uncle Jesse. He'd come get me."

"What about me?"

"You'd be down a little further on my list."

Not only was I behind Uncle Jesse, but I was also behind the former cheerleading coach. Ouch. Sort of hurt my feelings.

Yesterday Michelle told me she had a second mom. When I asked her who it was, she said, "Ms. Horton." That's one of her best buddy's mothers. She loves my kid and builds her up like only a mother can do. When Michelle told her that a boy had asked her to be his girlfriend at camp, Ms. Horton's response was, "That doesn't surprise me at all. You're beautiful inside and out."

Sallie's comment really struck me as did DJ's choice of bail out options. Ms. Horton's effortless response, a simple yet beautiful vote of uncompromising support, reassured me that I wasn't in this alone.

I don't have any doubt that my kids know that I love them, but as they often tell me, "You have to say that, you're our dad." What I'm so very thankful for is that they have others who open their hearts and pour out their love on them too.

Don't we all need someone to love us above and beyond those who have to?