to my daddy — who has been the best source of comfort, laughter and strength for me. who i always tried to be like + who everyone admires. i adore you!!!
fathering is showing up after a long day’s work and still showing up again for your kids when you’d rather a beer in silence. fathering is teaching your kids to read when mom could do it just as well. fathering is telling your 5 year old trying to work beside you in the garden to put on a shirt because being like daddy is not a good enough reason to have your shirt off… when you’re a girl. fathering is telling that same girl at 15 that her too-short shorts are going to have to be changed, never mind the 100+ degree heat and telling her to stop pouting about it, too. fathering is a spanking with a hand. with a belt. with a 2×4. because the father that disciplines his child LOVES them and thus, changes the trajectory of their lives. fathering is taking your daughters on dates (and being glad when they choose fuddrucker’s). fathering is doing lots of things you’d never wish upon your worst enemy — including watching your daughter’s club team lose game after tournament after year — and still coming to every cursed game. fathering is saying “shit” 15 times when the dog dies on a family road trip and telling the kids to go inside and to get away and laughing when, through tears, your daughter chides you for not letting that damned dog sleep inside on that last cold night. it is laughing when you should be disciplining and disciplining when mom’s had enough and true fathering is every boy’s worst nightmare and hardest task and the one so few step up to the plate for. fathering is saying “i love you” when you’ve never heard those words. it is a million rolled eyes and held hands and thousands of hours in the garage. fathering is an art, a delicate balance. fathering is taking your daughter to a funeral where she won’t stop crying and showing her all the lines in your hands are the same to calm her down. it is listening to a myriad of lies, forgiving them an inordinate amount of times and never letting your love waver. fathering is putting your foot down, teaching them to ride a bike, letting them learn to fly. fathering is a man’s job and you only fulfill it by showing up and failing and saying sorry and succeeding and trying again and learning your kids are alright after all. fathering is grief and lightness and hard conversations and your best job. fathering is the glory and gory years — and you haven’t shied away from either. fathering is provision — providing help, answers, silence and stability in equal measure. fathering is teaching your kids to mow, to take care of a car, what elbow grease is. fathering is comforting and challenging and modeling character and being the constant in an ever-changing life. fathering is so many things i don’t understand and never will and so many things i can clearly see as attributes of god because of you. fathering is being my best man and courage and my safe place. you are one of my most treasured gifts.