Sunday, June 17, 2012

In lieu of a Father's Day Card...

When I met Lawrence I knew very early on that he was the one I wanted to marry.  He was loving and respectful and generous.  He treated me the way I'd always deserved and wanted to be treated.  He was different than anyone else I'd ever know.  I fell in love with him so quickly.  

I was looking for a man for me.  I didn't give it much thought as to the type of father I was looking for for my future kids.  I wasn't looking for a man for them.  I remember seeing him with his brother's niece at a party, I thought it was cute that would rather color with her than socialize with the adults.  That was the first glimpse I got of how he might be as a father.  

I didn't grow up with a father so I didn't know what kind of man I'd be looking for anyway.

How naive I was to think that I found a man who would be content coloring with my kids all the live long day.  

Parenting was far harder than we ever imagined.  No sleep was far harder than we ever imagined.  But it was also more wonderful than we'd ever imagined.  

He was more wonderful.  

And he was different.  I've learned now that there's a lot more to being a good dad than liking to color and be around kids.  

Luckily, there was more to him too!

When I see him wrestle with his son, or call his middle daughter "Buds", or watch him watch Ninja Warrior with his oldest under his mind can barely wrap around what a good dad they have.  What a good man I have.  

When I thought he was being too hard on Lily during her toddlerhood, I was wrong.  She respects him in ways that she will never respect me, they all do.  When I worried that maybe he wouldn't ever bond with Addie the way he had with Lily, I was wrong, he found a special relationship with her that is one of the closest in our family.  When I thought there was no way he'd have the patience to take three kids out and about, I was wrong, he was even able to coach soccer and baseball with all three of them in tow.  He surprises and amazes me every day.  

I never understood that I had experienced any kind of a loss growing up without a dad, because I had such a loving family environment.  My mom and my brother and me we so close, so tight-knit, that I honestly couldn't imagine how having a dad would have made anything different or better.  It wasn't until I had a dad in my family, parenting my children, that I truly see first hand what a loss that was.  I cannot imagine our lives without this fantastic dad in it.  

I'm so thankful for his way of being a dad.  He is the yin to my yang, and he makes this family work.  He is the perfect man for me, and he is an even more perfect father for my children.  As a mother, I wonder if I could have given my children a better gift all those years ago.  I don't think so.  I feel blessed because I had no idea what to look for, no one I wanted him to be like, no model of the shoulds and the should nots.  And thank you God for that.  Because it has allowed his fatherhood to thrive in his own way.  Not always in my way.  

Lawrence grew up with a father who gave him an awesome role-model.  He was involved and he was there and he was loving.  He showed his boys how to take care of business and how to throw a ball.  He required respect and he taught them to use the grill and love football.  Their grandpa may not realize that the best gifts he has given to his grandchildren was training up their dads to be like him, as he taught by example.  I'm so thankful for Steve because he showed Lawrence how to be a dad.  A very very good dad.  

We are entering into a new season of parenthood.  One where we still rely on naptime every day, but one where we don't have to carry a diaper bag with us every time we leave the house.  Our kids look to their dad more often than I can count to be validated by him.  And just when I'm about to worry that he isn't going to be sensitive enough to their needs, I'm reminded, again, that he will surprise me and meet their need in only a way that he can.  His relationship with him is so his.  Theirs.  

I feel nervous about the years ahead.  I remember when a friend told me years ago, 'we are now raising our kids, not just keeping them alive".  I feel like that.  There are so many difficult decisions to make, rules to keep, figuring out what's appropriate for which kid at which age, deciding which battles to pick.  And honestly, outside of giving it to God, the fact that I get to do all this with Lawrence is what keeps me confident that we will do it well.  That we are doing it well.  

And then I feel excited about the years ahead.  I see the investments of his time and energy, how can you not, they are everywhere.  He gives and gives and gives to our kids, and they are so lucky.  He talks about them and beams with pride.  He never talks about them like they are anything but his pride and joy.  Just ask him how great they are, he will tell you!  And he might even tell you if you don't ask.  What a wonderful memory it will be for them to look back and remember hearing their dad talking about them with such joy.  

Every single day, every single weekend, he gives them, he give us, a memory to savor.  He helps us live our lives to the fullest, and let me tell you, it's a lot of work making this much fun, this many memories for 3 little people.  He honestly never ever has an ounce of energy left at the end of the day, because he uses it all up for them.  Every. Single. Day.  

He teaches them to ski and throw and be active, he gives them a healthy example, he build legos, he teaches football, he let's them help him drill and built, he has them help him cook, he'd rather take them with him than go alone, he does cirque du soliel, he changes poopy diapers, he brushes teeth and puts on hats over messy hair, he packs, he carries, he straps on boots, he sets up, he takes down.  

I love him.  

I love you, Lawrence.  Thank you so much for the dad that you are, for the dad that you are becoming, and for the dad that you will be. As seasons change in our life, I wouldn't want to be doing this with any other man.  You make me excited for our years ahead.  I promise to partner with you, to make you better together than you could be alone, for all the years of our lives.  On a day like today, Father's Day, when we celebrate you - I will remind myself to never take one day parenting with you for granted.  I'm so lucky and blessed to have you as the Father to my children.  To be the only Father I've ever celebrated on Father's Day.  

I love you, I respect you, and I'm so so thankful for you!  And it is so obvious that your kids feel the same, your three wonderful children.  

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