Monday, 17 June 2013

Father's Day

Fathers sometimes don't get the credit they deserve. Moms tend to get all of the parenting credit, both the kudos and the flak - the right to bitch, to brag, to seek support, to offer advice, to make their kids the centre of their existence and identity. Dads don't always get the same opportunities.

But dads are important too, and dads deserve recognition.

My kids are lucky - they have two dads. My older two boys see their biological dad once a week for a little whirlwind of a visit. He's their father and they love him dearly - but he's a different kind of "parent". They've never lived with him - or not since they were infants and far too young to remember - and he's always been just that fun guy they visit and play with once a week. He has none of the responsibility of actually raising, teaching, disciplining, caring for or providing for them. "Uncle Dad" is how I refer to him when I'm talking to my husband or girlfriends. But the boys don't know that or see that and they probably never will - which is fine. They love him, he loves them, and they have lots of fun together when they visit.

My husband - their stepdad - is their dad in every way that counts. Since he became a part of our family five years ago he has become a parent to our boys in every sense of the word, diving in to help me with every aspect of parenting and raising all three of our boys - the son we share together and his two stepsons. He's an amazing dad and the kids adore him.

It melts my heart when the kids leap into his arms when he walks in the door at the end of the day and crawl up into his lap for a snuggle before bed. He's so patient when they explore the garden together, answering all of their questions and teaching them about growing green things. He coaches our middle child's soccer team - not because of his experience or expertise in soccer, but because Middle Child asked him to. He sits through endless games of Monopoly, gets down on the floor to do puzzles, reads the same story over and over again and asks intelligent questions about their meandering nonsensical stories about their school day / movie they just watched / game they made up with their friend. He gives them a good-bye hug every morning (whether they're awake yet or not) and a good-night kiss every night. He changes diapers and leaps in to help out whenever my two arms don't quite extend to whatever all three children need at a particular moment. He works extra hard so that I can stay home to raise the kids and he races home from the office every night so we all have time to eat together before going out soccer or skating or swimming or baseball. He also disciplines when he has to, says no when he has to, and participates in every aspect of parenting - even the unfun ones.  My husband is an incredible father to our three children and we are all very lucky to have him.

This Father's Day was spent at the soccer field with lots of coffee. An out-of-town tournament meant a five-thirty wake-up and a long drive, an early morning game in the pouring rain, three games and three practices over seven hours at three different fields. Twelve hours after leaving the house we were on our way home with a car full of dirty, sweaty, tired children and and trunk full of filthy soccer gear, sunburnt and exhausted and realizing it was back to work and school the next morning without having had five minutes of relaxation on our weekend - so after dropping everything off at home and a quick change we headed back out for a Father's Day celebration at one of our favourite restaurants.

Despite the long day the kids were so excited to give my husband the gifts they'd spent weeks making at school. After a lovely family dinner we were all wiped from the long, busy weekend and it was early to bed for everyone. As we lay in bed I thought about how my husband had spent his Father's Day - waking up early, racing around town, setting up chairs and umbrellas and carting them from field to field, changing from home to away uniforms and back again, cheering on one child, chasing around another, up and down every five minutes for coffee runs, water runs, diaper changes, forgotten equipment. Not the most relaxing day of pampering and appreciation - but I can't think of a truer picture of life as a Dad.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads!


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