Don't forget the Dads

I think Father's Day is underhyped.

Mother's Day gets so much attention. You see commercials a month or more before the holiday for flowers and perfume and awful cheap jewelry. All these things that don't really mean a darn thing. All we really want is to know we're appreciated, to sleep a little late in the morning and not have to do much around the house for one day.
I don't think the Father's Day commercials started until about a week or so ago and it's all about the electronics and the grill and of course a new tie...bo-ring! It just seems like such a half hearted attempt to show your husband or dad that you love them and you know the sacrifices they make for you and your family. So, what brilliant, creative, thoughtful thing am I doing for my amazing husband of 10+ years? At the moment I'm only half sure.

I’m still wracking my brain for what to get Richard. What could I possibly get that would tell him everything I need to tell him about what a wonderful father he is? What material thing could say “I wouldn’t want anyone else to be the father of my children?” Or, “I couldn’t possibly raise them without you?” Or "Thanks for sticking by me when we were trying to make these beautiful babies". What will say “Thank you for making the French toast, the coffee, and taking the dog out so I could sleep for just an hour longer on a Saturday morning?”

What could I buy for him from the girls that would tell him “We know how deeply you love us. We know that you would do anything no matter the cost (material, physical or emotional) to ensure our safety, well being, and love. And we know how much you fight and work for our family, that you refused to let our family become a statistic in the wake of unimaginable tragedy. What could the girls give him that would say “We love it when you squish yourself into our little playhouse and let us make soup out of plastic chicken and chocolate milk for you. We love it when you lift us up over your head and twirl us around until we squeal with delight. We love it that you want to snuggle with us as we go to sleep each and every night. We love it that you aren’t afraid to take care of us for a day (or more) if mommy has to work or needs a day to herself. And we love it that you will have a tea party, splash in the pool, kick a ball around, or show us how to make your famous pancakes.”

How do you encapsulate this in something tangible? I’m not really sure it’s possible. At least I sit here, just a few days away from the holiday, empty handed. I just can’t come up with something that even comes close to telling him all of this in a material way.

Richard is an incredible man, husband, and father…anyone who knows him personally, and knows us, is fully aware of this. As a husband he is a true gift from God in my life. He stood vigil at our girls’ bedsides when they were born and I was too sick to visit them. He pulled me out of my downward spiral last year after Zoe’s death when all I truly wanted to do was curl up in a ball and die. He refused to let me not be what I always wanted to be…a mother to our wonderful children. He has always supported me in everything I have ever had a passion about doing. He is my best friend.

My darling husband, as a father…is even more incredible. The love he has for his girls is so pure and so tender. I can already see into the future at how pained he’ll be when they ask to go out on their first date…I can already see it when he tries to buckle them into their booster seat and they say “No, I do it yourself”. These little 2 ½ year olds are already exerting their independence and it’s hard not to think about what the future holds even if we do have years yet to face it. He is far from the stereotypical man that shies away from talking about what’s going on. He is more likely to bring up tough subjects than I am and is also more likely to (and has been) express what he’s feeling than I am.

He isn’t afraid to take care of the girls by himself for a day or so. He is so cute, even if all I’ve asked is for him to have “baby duty” one night, which entails attending to the girls (mostly Avery) if they wake in the middle of the night and getting them their early morning cup of milk. He is so diligent that he’ll pre-make the cups of milk and pack them in a little travel cooler and put that cooler in their bedroom. That way it’s right there waiting and he doesn’t have to walk to the kitchen and groggily make their milk (like I do). If he has to watch them in the morning during breakfast he’s likely to prepare the pancake dry ingredients the night before to save time when they’re “starving” and getting cranky. (I should take pointers from all his planning so make my mornings run a little smoother!)

Most of all he loves them with his entire heart and soul and he tells them that! Even if he’s had a rough day…whether due to work or due to missing Zoe…he tries hard not to let it affect his time with Avery and Lily. And I know, even in her death, his relationship with Zoe continues to grow. He talks to her, he grieves for her, and he misses her just as much as I do. She is his daughter as much as Avery and Lily are. I know he misses all the things I miss about her and cries for all the same things I cry for…the kindergarten, high school, and college graduations we’ll never see, the swim meet, soccer game or dance recital that we’ll only be able to imagine…and that singular father-daughter moment…dancing at her wedding. All of these he can only picture in his mind and pray to experience in his dreams at night. Like me, Avery and Lily bring true joy into his life, there is no question about that; but it doesn’t lessen the things we’ll miss.

So…what can I do for Richard for Father’s day? I can remember all of this. I can honor the very real fact that he hurts just as much as I do for all we’ve gone through and that his heart is just as battered and bruised as I mine. I can share my feelings more openly and find that quite often we are feeling similarly. I can allow him the “luxury” of grieving openly because our society does not freely offer this to the fathers and the husbands. Even in this day and age of 3, 5, 7, and 12 step programs to a better life and heightened self awareness…the world still expects the dad to be sad for a week or so and then get back to work and plug away. Why isn’t it just as accepted for the dad to have difficulty just getting out of bed to take a shower or to want to curl up and die as it is for the mom? Are they less human that we women? Do they feel less? Are their feelings not as real as ours? Not at all! And yet, even in books written for grieving parents, they are often stereotyped into a column of characteristics that are less than desirable in times of great stress. I am so thankful my husband never came close to falling into one of those columns...he has always been "outside the norm" in that regard. If he wasn't, I honestly think we would be a part of that statistic where 90% of marriages fall apart after the death of a child.

I love you so very, very much Richard. I am eternally grateful that God picked you to be my husband and the father to Avery, Lily, and Zoe!
You are my heart…my soul…my love forever.

Happy Father’s Day!


Shirliana said...

Keira... what a nice post - makes me feel bad that I didn't notice all those things about father's day too... I also have a wonderful husband who doubles as a wonderful dad too.

Oh! And for the record... I totally understand about God and all that, but you also had a hand in picking such a good man for yourself and your babies. ;)

Lastly - nice blog... . nice to meet you.

Beth said...

I am really behind in my blog readings so I just read this. It is so BEAUTIFUL. Wow, what a gift in of itself... this beautiful post. What an incredible husband you have!

All time favorite video of Zoe!

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Bible verses that comfort me

"Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord."
~ 2 Corinthians 5:8

"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children....Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them"
~ Mark10:14 & 10:16

"...those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint"~ Isaiah40:31