Father’s Day is approaching, and this is going to be a different one for me and my family.
After separating from my husband earlier this year, some of our family traditions have faded away. Things like Friday night pizza in front of the television and lazy Sundays have been replaced by meals out, swapping the kids, and planning the coming week while trying to keep everyone’s schedules and feelings in mind.
But there are also some traditions we refuse to give up, like Saturday lunches out at our favorite burger joint where I always eat too much and complain about it while my ex shakes his head and asks me why I do that to myself. Then I suggest we go out to ice cream, and he agrees without reminding me I was just complaining and had to unbutton my pants in a crowded restaurant. He knows I can be stubborn, especially when I want ice cream.
Going to the movies together as a family, when there’s something the kids have been wanting to see, still happens. After visiting the dollar store and smuggling in the candy and bottles of soda in my purse, he pays while I slip by the front desk into the bathroom. Surely, we would give Bonnie and Clyde a run for their money.
We do these things together, all of us, no questions, ever. It is something we can all count on, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon because it makes us all happy.
Something else that won’t change is the fact I will be celebrating my kids’ father on Father’s Day. Not just because I want to. Not just because he made sure I had a wonderful Mother’s Day, complete with some fancy skincare products I had been coveting and a nice meal out with my kids after he told them to behave themselves and make sure I had a great day.
But because I think it is the right thing to do.
The only father they will have, ever. And lucky for them, he’s a good one. A really good one.
And he deserves to be celebrated and recognized. It didn’t work out for us. Our marriage is over, but that doesn’t make him any less of a father. The fact he is a parent to our three children will never change, whether we are married or not.
He watched each of them being born. He held my legs after I swore at him and told him he wasn’t doing anything right and I was about to die from giving birth to his big-headed children with zero drugs.
He drove me to the hospital three times after my water broke all over the place, but I still insisted on taking a shower and putting on my pearl earrings after he told me to just get in the damn car because he didn’t know how to deliver a baby.
And I watched him fall deeply in love, three times.
I got to see the man I married hold our babies the second they were born, then cut their cord, with tears of joy in his eyes.
I watched him change their diapers and rock them to sleep.
He fed them formula from a bottle when I had was done breastfeeding, and when I cried because I felt guilty about it, he made me feel better.
There were countless nights he swaddled them, and I saw their silhouettes in the moonlight and all I could do was lie there because I was exhausted. I told him I was sorry I had nothing left during some of those all-nighters and he would always say, “It is fine. I will have coffee in the morning, and I will be fine. You need to rest.”
And I would.
He is a damn good father. Always has been. He deserves a day to feel appreciated.
Maybe we aren’t in love like we were on our wedding day. Maybe we aren’t the same crazy kids who were in their early-20s when they met and used to dream about their future and talked about getting married and having kids right away, but we have been through two decades together. Countless parties, hours of house hunting, and lots of blood, sweat, and tears have been poured into our marriage and our children.
We have given each other our best years and our worst years, and we’ve come to the end of our time together as a couple.
But I still want him to be celebrated on Father’s Day. This year, and the next, and the next. And I want to do it for him now just as much as I wanted to do it for him when we were married. So that is what I will do.