“Hey guys, how were oceans made?”
When one of our daughter’s classic, epic questions swirled from the back seat of the car to the front, then danced around our heads, I could do little more than smile, take a deep breath, and hope with every ounce of my being that it would land squarely on the shoulders of my husband.
Being sleep-deprived from our puppy’s middle-of-the-night antics, I could barely muster up enough energy to go get coffee, let alone have a deep, philosophical conversation about the universe. I had the patience of a flea.
I sat there waiting, and silently willing my husband to come up with a brilliant answer, so I wouldn’t have to. When he finally began, “Well sweetie, that is one of life’s great questions…” then launched into an exquisite dissertation about philosophy, religion and scientific theory, my eyes brimmed with tears.
Those words spilling from his mouth reminded me once again why I love this man so much, and why he is the epitome of a rock star father and husband.
It also made me appreciate just how “present” Jeffrey is in our daughter’s life. I don’t remember ever having a deep, philosophical conversation with my dad—at least nothing more profound than, “Rocky road or vanilla?” In fact, my dad never did any of the things Jeffrey does with our daughter. He never helped me with my homework, read to me, organized play dates, or took me on bike rides. Nor did he cook meals, help plan birthday parties, do artwork with me, set up lemonade stands, or take me on special dates. And the thought of him being a room parent or a chaperone on a school field trip? That makes me laugh out loud. I don’t think he even knew my teachers’ names.
But here’s the thing: I have nothing but fond memories of my dad and my childhood. Even though he was far from perfect and far from uber involved, I felt loved and nurtured by him. I don’t know if that’s the magic of a father or if that’s how I choose to remember him. Whatever the case, on this Father’s Day, I send a big shout out to my dad, the first man in my life who made me feel strong, smart and special.
I celebrate not only who he was and how hard he worked, but the impact he made on my life. Not only did he always treat me like an equal to my three older brothers, but he instilled in me a work ethic that has stayed with me my whole life. Most importantly, he believed in me—no matter what crazy idea I chased after—like figuring out how to get myself through college, even though he knew he wouldn’t be around to help me pay for it.
The last five words he uttered to me before he died summed up his style and our relationship best. He simply smiled through the pain and morphine and said, “You are a tough bird,” which translated to: “I love you, be strong, and carry on. I know you will be fine without me.”
I’ve leaned on those simple five words many times over the years, and because of them I’ve always known I could stand on my own two feet and take on life’s adventures without being afraid.
A father’s words can be profoundly powerful. I can only imagine the strength our daughter is soaking up from Jeffrey. She may not fully understand or appreciate all that her daddy-o does or says quite yet, but I have no doubt it’s all sinking into the right places, slowly building a foundation that will support her throughout her life.
So here’s to you, my rock star husband. Thank you for being the person you are and for making fatherhood a priority. Thank you for answering the tough questions when I haven’t had my coffee, and thank you for always making our daughter feel strong, smart and special.
I know the world is your canvas. The fact that you have chosen to create your most meaningful art right here at home means everything.
Happy Father’s Day.