A WHOLE NEW FATHER'S DAY
My own father was not a role model for fatherhood. He began drinking early in his life and it only escalated after he lost his left arm above the elbow while serving in the US Army. After his Army service and my parents' marriage, he obtained his bachelor's degree in two years (courtesy of proficiency exams and the GI Bill), passed the accountant's examination on his first try which resulted in his footing on a path to a partnership at a Big 8 accounting firm. Within five years of their marriage, they were parents to seven children (four of us came in two pairs 51 weeks apart ;-)
His continuing alcoholism contributed to spousal and child abuse, the crumbling of both his marriage and his career and, ultimately, led to his death at the age of 49. When my parents divorced, my father abandoned his children -- physically, emotionally and financially. Until I saw my father in his casket when I was 22, I had not seen or spoken to him since I was 12 when I accidentally bumped into him with his new wife on a Chicago street. The best I can recall , the time before that in which I had any meaningful interaction with him (as parent and child) I might have been 8 or 9. My father's mental capacity at the time of his death was so diminished from his abuse of alcohol that he could not remember the names of his children.
Still, I forgave my father many, many years ago after accepting that much of his behavior was attributable to the ravages of alcoholism and, after becoming a parent myself, I realized all he had done probably hurt him more than it could ever have hurt me. A few of my siblings wondered -- other than the abject poverty he forced the family into -- whether it had actually been a good thing he left because we never had to endure the push-pull, mom's side-dad's side, choose sides, every other weekend stuff that so many other children have complained. Even to this day I'm not sure whether his leaving was a good thing... 40 years later attending the high school's father-daughter dance with my best friend and her Dad still stings.
I tell you all this not for sympathy, but to give you an idea why I consider just how good a father a man is directly and significantly impacts my estimation of the worth of a man. You can be all things to all other people, but you are worthless unless you fulfill your responsibilities as a father to the very best of your ability.
My DH thinks of our children every single day. He/we speak of them -- their lives, their current situations (jobs, health, girlfriends, children, career paths, etc.), how much we miss them -- every single day. We speak to the youngest of our children the most frequently -- mostly because geographically they are here but also because they still count on us more than the older ones for guidance and assistance. But we still have long discussions with the older ones -- what medical specialties are now off "the list" of fourth year study (CONGRATS, H!! 3 years down -- one to go, sweet girl!!) , what duty assignments are available for the sailor's next rotation, what the civilian sector looks like at the moment and what his Dad thinks about extending his contract or not (that's always a tough conversation for a career-Navy guy). We try to stay involved in our children's lives without being too involved in their lives (if you know what I mean.)
Since he PSC'd (permanent change of station) from the Air Force base in a neighboring state to the east coast a few years ago (and his near-constant deployment tempo), we do not get much of a chance to see the oldest son be Dad to his two young stepdaughters. However, we will tell you (based on their visits here and our telephone conversations) that he is a devoted and loving father with a "nothing is off-limits" attitude in terms of parental responsibility when it comes to his girls: storytelling, piggyback rides, homework, breakfast, lunches, tennis lessons, bedtime stories... He's game. He is an excellent and loving Dad who gets a kick out of Ashley and Avery.
We get a ton of chances to see Noah in action as a Dad to his 6 month old son, Thomas. Noah is a caring, devoted, loving and affectionate Dad to his son. He has assumed the role of being a young single Dad with all the tenacity required. While Noah is currently away much of the time as a wildland firefighter (more on that in a "Noah Update" coming soon), he researched and found fabulous child care for Tommy, takes Thomas to his monthly medical checkups, bathes him, changes diapers, makes bottles, gets up for middle of the night feedings (and has since his birth). He plays with him, makes him laugh, comforts his tears and frets about Tommy's health and safety. When Noah is not away at work, he and Thomas live with us. Big Papa (that would be the DH) and YaYa (that would be me), care for Thomas whenever other baby care is unavailable (some evenings and some weekends). I get the biggest chuckles when Thomas is suspended like a little space alien wrapped in a Snuggli on Big Papa's chest while they check out the flowers in the garden, the birds at the feeders, while doing dishes or just taking a walk. As a result of the hands on love from his Dad and his grandpa, Thomas is probably the happiest baby on God's Earth... because he knows he is loved and that he is safe.
So, to my DH, to Jas and to Noah
(and to Greyhawk, B5, Uncle Jimbo, Soldier's Dad, Dadmanly, Hook, Taco, JP, Roggio, Doc, Jack Army (just to name a few!)
You Guys Rock!
May this be your best Father's Day ever (until the next)!!