A Father’s Day Gift

Dear Courtney,

First, let me congratulate you on your Spartan Race!  I loved your pictures; you looked strong and determined, and I’m so, so proud of you!  Way to go girl!  You inspire me!

Second, let me wish your dear husband a very happy Father’s Day!  Give him my best; I hope your family had a magnificent day!

I write to you as the sun sets in Seattle on a very full Father’s Day.  My husband is in the basement for a few well earned moments to himself; and I am left to reflect on the day and all of the things that man is to our family.

As I’m sure you remember, my pregnancy with Bugaboo was a bit of a, um, well– it was a bit of a surprise.  I’ll never forget, it was a Wednesday in January, and that little plus sign stunned us; it sent us running back to the drugstore for a second (and third and forth) opinion.

I actually think you and your hubby were some of the first people I told.  Remember, I was in NYC, for work, a few weeks after I found out, and I figured I might as well tell you in person.  I’ll never forget your faces; you both were SO supportive, but I think you were a little panicked for me.  Little Man was just a baby, so you already knew how HARD newborns are, and you also knew that while J and I’d been engaged and together 5 years, we weren’t married (blush, shame face, regret)  You knew a baby wasn’t in our plan.

To be honest I was panicked too!  I was worried.  About a lot of things.  But I was really worried about how ready J was to be a dad.  He’s a good, honest, stand-up guy, so I knew he’d BE there, but I worried about if he was really prepared to be someone’s daddy.

Luckily, it was all a lot of wasted worry!

I actually think he was excited about the pregnancy before I was, and then, when he first held her–  well, you could almost see all the puzzle pieces click into place.  The man is a natural father.

J and Bug

He brings so much to our kids that I don’t.  That I can’t.

He encourages their independence, perseverance and risk taking in a way I never would.  For example, once, when bug was little- little, maybe a just over two, she was climbing a ladder at the playground.  It was tall with large gaps between the rungs, and at the top the whole thing curved 90degrees to meet the play structure.  I was convinced it was too big for her.  I said so.  Several times.  Loudly.  He was insistent she could do it, and he spotted her as she climbed.  But sure enough, as she neared the top, she slipped through the rungs and fell.  Furious, I rushed over, ready to simultaneously comfort MY daughter and rip my husband to shreds, but by the time I got there J had already helped her up, and Bug wasn’t even crying!  Instead she was shouting, “again, again,” and as soon as she got free of J’s arms she was right back on that ladder.

In the end, she climbed it!  By herself!  And when she came down the slide, she wore that accomplishment with pride.  Her self-esteemed was boosted with the success.  A success she never would have achieved with me because even if I had let her try it, after the fall, I NEVER would have let her try again.  I would have deemed it “too dangerous”.  But her daddy knew better.  He taught her better.  He taught her that sometimes you fall, but you have to get back on the horse.

Objectively I want kids who won’t stay down when they fall– literally and figuratively– but I don’t think my methods (shelter, protect, avoid)  will teach them that.

Thank goodness they have their old man!

But J is good for more than just playground hijinks and perseverance lessons.  He has a great imagination and can spend all afternoon talking to our kids about what the local raccoons think of our dog.  Together they create elaborate scenarios about neighborhood watch cats who keep the streets safe from rouge dogs and mean crows.    He will happily play babysitter to Bugaboo’s dolls, EllaJo and Girl Tommy, while at the same time explaining to her how sound waves work or the difference between a fire truck and a fire engine.  He will spend all afternoon teaching them the rules of football or soccer or Indi car racing.

I could go on and on.

bug and J guy and J

J and I don’t typically exchange gifts on Mother’s/Father’s day, but  we’re also about to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary and the 10th anniversary of our first date, so this year, I break with tradition to offer the gift of words.  Simple words, but words I don’t say often enough.  So here goes:

J,

I respect you.  I love you.  I am proud of you.  I am proud of the family and life we have built.  No matter how our family began,  I’m so glad this is where we are.

Cheers,
Natalie

 

2 thoughts on “A Father’s Day Gift

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