I know there may be times when I nag — let’s call it remind — you to do certain things. You have the uncanny ability to walk right past an overflowing trash can without bagging it up. You somehow miss the hamper that sits mere feet from your pile of dirty clothes on the floor. You leave empty glasses everywhere but in the sink, and the list of stuff you say you’re going to do grows ever-longer (like that landscape project you started … three years ago).
But, in the grand scheme of things, I admit that those are unimportant. Annoying, for sure, but unimportant. Yet sometimes I get so wrapped up in that little stuff — not seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak — that I fail to thank you for the many, many things you’re doing right.
Especially the one thing I cherish most: You’re a really, really great dad.
If I had been able to place a custom order for the dad I wanted my kids to have, it would have been a lofty list. Give him the patience of a saint, I would have said, the ability to help with hours of middle school math homework without getting frustrated (oh, and the ability to understand middle school math homework to begin with). Give him the desire to pass on things he learned from his father and the desire to be available whenever his kids need him, even if he has to turn his work schedule upside-down to do so. Make him a shining example of what a man is supposed to be, so my kids can see him turning the car around to give his coat to a homeless veteran and volunteering at a food bank and secretly paying for someone’s meal at a restaurant and stopping to help a distraught motorist with a flat tire. Load him up with an arsenal of eye-roll-inducing “dad jokes,” because really, no dad is complete without them.
I couldn’t place a custom order, obviously. But it doesn’t matter, because by some wonderful stroke of luck, I got all those things and more when I got you.
You’re stern when the occasion calls for it, even though I know you hate to be. But even when you lay down the law, our kids are still undeniably certain that deep down, you’re the biggest mush when it comes to them. They know that you would go to literally any lengths to keep them safe and make them happy. You are present, valuing your time with our family, making it a priority, always coming up with new things to do together.
You teach them small things, like how to bait a hook, and big things like how to treat people and how to work hard for what you have. You tell them they can be anything, that you’re proud of them no matter what, and you mean it. You are their most vocal supporter, their provider and protector, the one who helps them problem-solve everything from a broken bike chain to a broken heart.
Like any mother, I want the best for my kids. And I couldn’t ask for a better gift — for them, and in turn, for me — than the kind of father that you are. There is nothing sweeter to me than watching you watch our children with love and pride written all over your face. Nothing more valuable than the knowledge that someone else feels for them the deep, unrelenting love that I do.
We tend to take the best aspects of our lives for granted. There are parents out there who have to do it alone, who have to be both mother and father; kids who grow up with dads who abuse or neglect or leave altogether. I’ll never forget how incredibly lucky we are. I’ll never stop taking those little moments to peek in on you when you’re with our kids, being the dad they need at that exact time — whether it’s fun dad or firm dad or supportive dad — and feeling my heart swell with gratitude.
So, while your socks can’t seem to walk themselves to the hamper, and you don’t always rinse the stubble out of the sink when you shave, I can look past it. Because putting up with those things is a very small price to pay for the big, big value of a good father.