Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dads Day

Today is Father's Day, and while we wait for our sleeping daddy to arise, I thought I'd put some words to umm, screen, and tell you a little about the kind of father he is, and how important that is to me.

Growing up, I didn't see my Dad very much. My parents divorced when I was 4, and even though my Dad lived downtown, (a mere 20 minutes or so from where I lived in the 'burbs) he didn't really play an active role in my life. I would say we saw him "maybe" three times a year or so. He didn't call very often either. I know my Dad loves me and my siblings in his own way, but it's taken me pretty much from then til a few years back to realize that and come to terms with it. I would invite him to stuff I did at school, awards I received, or even my graduation. He always had a reason he couldn't attend, and as a kid, that stung.

You can probably surmise, then, that it was very important to me that I marry a guy who was going to be a super hands-on Dad. I judged a lot of my boyfriends based on how they interacted with my then young niece. When I introduced my "new" boyfriend to her, he was immediately smitten with her. As we got more serious, he got more serious about being a positive male role model in her life-as her father was in and out of the picture. We ended up moving in with my sister at that time, and my husband would get up early to let my sister sleep in, dress my niece up and throw her in a ball cap, and take her to the park for hours. We took her camping with us, and anywhere else that taking a kid was acceptable. We went to shows, museums, heck even the doctor for an ear infection! My sister worked shift work, so we got to spend a lot of time with my niece watching her grow. I knew this guy was a keeper. He loved my niece as much as I did and it wasn't just an act to score points. We were in our early 20's then, and hanging out with a two year old wasn't every one's idea of a good time. We never felt like it cramped our style. Granted, we could always just hand her back to her Mom at the end of the day! Sweet deal!

Many years later, and with wedding bands on our fingers and stars in our eyes, we decided to start our own family. We were blessed with two beautiful daughters. From day 1, my husband has been right there beside me for every step of this parenting journey. While my friends' husbands had never done the bath, or cut a nail, nor had even got up in the night with a crying baby, there he was. Since I didn't breastfeed, we split the nighttime bottles from the get-go. I would go to bed a bit earlier, and he'd do the bottle around 11pm. I'd do the middle of the night, and he'd do the early morning before getting ready for work. He cut nails, got them dressed, took on "bath night," gave first foods and lulled to sleep. He changed the first diapers too-I have never even seen that messy, sticky first poop. I had c-sections for both girls so he took over right away.

Here we now are with a 10 year old and a 6 year old. My husband has been the Dad going on field trips and never missing special events in their classes. He talks openly about whatever topic the girls come to him with-even the taboo "puberty" questions from my oldest. I'm thrilled she is even comfortable talking to her Dad about that stuff. He's the one they go to for their manicures and pedicures, because he uses a toothpick to draw flowers and hearts and rainbows. He's endured them putting crowns, pony tails and barrettes in his hair. I'm pretty sure he's even been their model for makeup testing too. He dances with them, brushes their hair and makes sure they get dressed in the morning. He is the one that makes their breakfast, while I struggle to peel my eyes open and start the day. He chauffeurs them to classes and parties and sleepovers, most days just taking it all in stride.

My husband has been the Dad to my girls that I've always wanted for myself. I'm so pleased to watch them interact and to see the love and total confidence in those exchanges. I try to impart to the girls how blessed they are to have the father they do, and I hope as they age that they realize just how lucky they've been.

We don't all get to have the parents we hope for or need, but my husband has been the epitome of what a Dad stands for since the beginning, and in so doing has let me live vicariously through my daughters.

Happy Father's Day.

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