Yesterday we celebrated Father’s Day by having dinner with our son, his soon-to-be wife, and her two young-adult children from a previous marriage. We had a great time talking and laughing, and the food they prepared was delicious. I have been thinking about the intent of the day, with my thoughts traveling along two different lines. My next post will about my thoughts of how these special days can be painful, but today’s post will feature the memories I have of sharing parenthood with JB. Having him as a co-parent made my work so much easier.
We became parents when work was still divided into men’s work (as in paid jobs, taking care of the cars, and mowing the lawn) and women’s work (all things inside the home if hubby made enough to support her). Women were suppose to take care of babies, but you snuggled our newborns and changed lots of diapers. Even in infancy they knew you were special because you shared your afternoon naps, with them comfortably lying on your chest.
I always ran out of energy right after supper so I had little patience for putting children to bed. You eagerly (most nights) read the bedtime stories to the kids after baths had been taken and they had curled up around you on one of their beds. I was soothed by your gentle voice as I listened from another room.
Thank you for recognizing when they were growing in ability so you changed your method of story telling. You paused at critical times in the stories so they could rewrite the characters and action. I would giggle as I listened to the kids’ giggles and yelps of laughter as they worked to make up wild, nonsensical stories – and this was before Ad Libs were published.
I love remembering the games you played with the kids every night after supper. No, they weren’t quiet board games. Every night you would lie on the living room floor after supper – an invitation to all three kids to tumble and bounce and walk on you. The mayhem would build to crescendo until you would yell for Mommy to come and save you. Long after the kids were too big to play the silly floor games you made up, you played the same games with our grandchildren. And our son was soon romping on the floor with his two little sons after supper every night. I wonder if our oldest grandson is romping with Kaden tonight.
Thanks for those times you stepped in when you heard me loosing my cool because I was unable to comfort a distressed child. I can still hear the words, “I’ll take over.” as you took the sobbing child into your arms and they immediately settled on your shoulder. What a blessing you were.
I am so proud when I think of how you put the needs of our children before your concern about being ridiculed. Remember when Carol’s first grade teacher invited Mommies (and maybe Grandmas) to have lunch with their child. You took extra time off work to be there with Carol because I had a class in East Lansing. You must have been the only Daddy to attend.
I am also grateful that you attended the after school Girl Scout meeting when Sharon was awarded the Gold merit star. It was an event I wanted to attend but couldn’t because I was taking university classes. You were sensitive and gracious enough to take care of both of our needs..
I know you always take care of your things and like your work bench to be in order – at least the order that lets you find things. How amazing that you were generous in letting Michael use your tools and helped him find stashed away lumber so he could build a fort in our back yard. You were always willing to help our children with projects and even when they became adults you continued to teach them how to fix things so that now they are handy and resourceful in keeping their homes and cars well maintained. Now that’s a great dad.
Although we tease you about it now, we all appreciated the hot dogs and canned beans (or grilled cheese and tomato soup) you served up to the kids on all those nights that I wasn’t able to be home because of late night classes.
I am amazed that you took our three kids and two of their friends camping in Canada all by yourself so I could have a week home alone to complete some papers for classes. What a wonderful experience that was for all of you. I know because the kids came home with lots of exciting stories and you came home tired but without battle scars.
Although parenting teens isn’t easy, you hit the mark by driving them to high school, and stopping at Hinkley’s Bakery for a breakfast of doughnuts and chocolate milk. You thought to take them out on country roads on early Sunday mornings in summer to give them driving practice before they began driver training. You knew they wouldn’t be as scared getting behind the wheel when they started class. And then you helped them get cars and taught them how to maintain them so they had wheels to get where they needed to go.
I am so thankful I had the good sense to pick you to be my life partner. There was something I saw in you when we were dating that told me that you would be a great dad. Having a good dad for the children I wanted to have was very important to me and you didn’t let me down. Now, after 50 years of marriage and co-parenting, we can look back and say it wasn’t always easy, and sometimes we made mistakes, but overall it was very, very good.
And now all three of our children are good friends and a source of joy for us. Most important, they respect and love you deeply. Thank you, Sweetheart, for sharing it all with me.