I asked my son why, and he replied "Because he left when grandma was pregnant with you." I told him that I hoped he would never be so irresponsible as to walk out on his pregnant wife one day, but I tried to put it in perspective. "My life would be totally different if he hadn't done that, though . . . and I think my life is pretty good right now, so I wouldn't want to change anything." He pondered that while he finished his dishes, and 10 minutes later, it was probably gone like the soapsuds down the drain.
My kids are fortunate. Somehow, I had the foresight to marry a man with enough of the good qualities of my own "dad" - good work ethic, a belief that he should provide for his family, provide discipline for his children, provide a good example of choices and behaviors, with a little bit of human frailty. I was also smart enough to marry a man who didn't carry some of the faults and foibles of my own dad, who seems like a relic from the past, at times. My husband treats me as a partner, and an equal, and supports my roles in life with as much energy as his own. My husband takes raising his sons as a personal responsibility, and is involved in their education, their health, their recreation, and their emotional crises. This is the example my children will have, and hopefully hold themselves to as grown men. Of course, they'll still probably bug their wives too much about new cars, play too much poker, defer changing diapers to the nearest female, and shy away from general housework as often as they can. I don't know that we'll ever break men of those habits.
So on father's day, I am thankful that my kids have a wonderful dad. And I'm also grateful that for as old-fashioned and behind-the-times as my own father is, that I have always known the love and care of a "dad" - one who was only bound to me by love and choice, not just biology. Because for all of his gruffness, I never doubted, and still never doubt, that in his own, old-fashioned way, regardless of the fact that I don't carry a single strand of his DNA, he loves me.
So this is my thank you to the fathers I know and love:
- My old-school Wisconsin "grumpy old man" that I call "Dad"
- My new-school husband, who's the best dad I can imagine for my two beautiful boys
- My departed father-in-law, who always treated me like his own daughter
- The sweetest Canadian father I know, who called last night just to tell my I was beautiful - I could just bite him, he's so sweet
- One of the most intellectually-sexy fathers I know (ok, he's cute too), who just expanded his role as dad
- One of the most affable fathers I know, even if his choice in football teams leaves a little to be desired
- One my favorite internet crushes (he's cute, he writes well, he has good taste in faux hair metal bands, and he's got like 5% body fat . . . could a girl ask for more?), who gets a double dose of fatherhood everyday and still manages to have a smile
- One of my biggest supporters when my hubby was in Iraq, who manages to find time to care about everyone, including his own brood, even when they are far from him
- One of my new poker-playing favorite fathers . . . thanks to Vegas and blogging
- One of my favorite curmudgeonly fathers, who's trying to make some improvements in his life
To all of you other fathers out there, in the blogsphere, and elsewhere . . . thank you for loving your children, and loving your families. In the end, its the best we can do.
Happy Father's Day!