Sitting at the dinner table, the three of us hear a familiar clink in the driveway, and I can see smiles creep across the girls’ faces, sparkles arriving in their eyes, and then we see him, the hero and his trusty steed, or rather, my husband, wheeling his bike into the shed. They begin a chant, squealing and giggling, “DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! DADDY!” You’d think the star player were entering the stadium. And to us: he is. Some days he rides in like the cavalry, saving me from a day gone horribly wrong and saving my children from a mama at her wits end. But even on a day gone right, things are still just infinitely better when he’s home.
I knew having kids would explode my heart full of love for the tiny new people we brought into the world, but I didn’t realize I was capable of loving my husband more than I did before, that every time I watched him parenting our girls well, I’d feel suddenly hit by a cartoon cupid’s arrow and find myself heart-poundingly smitten all over again. And, since he’s such an amazing dad, this happens all the time. From the first time I saw him holding our tiny newborn baby girls, to the way he scoops their now-toddler-sized selves up, even when dog tired from a night shift, and wrestles and tickles them with every ounce of energy he has left: I just keep falling more and more in love with this man.
Maybe it’s because we met working at a summer camp and I had already seen him around kids from the start, but I had no doubts this man would be an amazing father. I had my own questions about how I’d do as a mom, but I just knew he was going to rock this thing. And he has even exceeded those high expectations. I’m a better parent because he’s my partner– I’ve learned from his patience and his playfulness, and I’m often able to hold it together longer than I ever thought I would, just because I know, eventually, he’ll be home and all will be right with the world. In a culture that often depicts dads as bumbling and incompetent, as reluctant caregivers, it is so important for me to celebrate the fact that he is an adept and equal parent, that he is actually really good at this parenthood thing.
I also have to say, he’s not the only amazing dad I know. I feel very fortunate to be on this parenting journey with many other friends with kids, and there’s not one bumbling incompetent or distant Don Draper among them. More than a few corporations could stand to watch this generation of dads in parenting action, because they’re not struggling to clean up a kitchen mess with some miracle known as a paper towel, or putting diapers on wrong, or “babysitting” their own kids, as ads and TV shows would have us believe. They’re in it. They’re parenting. They’re doing this thing, and they’re doing it well, because this is who they are and their families are what they love, and this is just what you do. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s worthy of celebration. So, Happy Father’s Day.