Today is Father's Day. An entire cottage industry has been developed to make it easy for us to revere our fathers on this special day; you can easily shower your pop with cards, shirts, hats, mugs, meals, movies, and anything else you want to celebrate the amazing dad he is. And of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with treating your dad in an extra special way on any day, let alone on Father's Day.
Personally, I am uncomfortable with a day of gratitude or reverence just because I am a father. Maybe this is because I feel like I am respected for being a dad - and for being me - just about every day anyway. Maybe it's because I don't really like celebrations that are forced to occur on only one specific day a year, as though we need the calendar to tell us when we need to be appreciative. Or maybe - just maybe - it's because I think Father's Day is less a day in which others should celebrate me, and more a day when I should be celebrating the children that have made my life so very special.
Yes, that's it.
Today, as most days, I am thankful for all of the opportunities my children have given me. I am thankful for the times that I:
Stayed up with a sick baby, because it gave me an opportunity to experience compassion and empathy.
Drove around at 2:30am with a baby who could only sleep in the car, because it taught me how to be more selfless and how to sing songs that even a baby would enjoy.
Wiped butts, cleaned out cotton diapers, and washed dirty clothes and sheets, because it allowed me the opportunity to demonstrate that nature happens, that it is all okay, and that it is nothing to fear.
Sat on the floor in the bathroom for hours with the shower running for steam so my children could breathe easier, because it allowed me time to connect and hold them close.
Used my shirt to wipe a snotty nose, because it showed them that their comfort is more important than a shirt.
Wiped away blood with my hands, because they hate the sight of blood and being hurt is bad enough without having it make you sick.
Cried tears and sobbed, because it gave me a chance to show them that I am human and need comfort too.
Laughed in ways small and large, often until I either fell to the ground or cried, because it helped them see that it was okay to play with me.
Stayed up later than I wanted to and slept on the couch with a child who wasn't ready for bed, because we always had fun and learned to respect each other.
Fell asleep holding a little hand or with a small head nestled in the crook of my arm, because it's good to remember that even the most loved children can always use more.
Read the same book, told the same story, or watched the same video for the 37th time - even if it's Casper Meets Wendy - because it meant a lot to me that they still wanted me there to do it with them, even after 37 times.
Went back to the counter for 6 more packets of ketchup, because it's only 30 steps but at least 10 minutes of smiles.
Kissed away tears, because another excuse to kiss is always a good thing; that time will pass soon enough.
Interpreted children's art, because I learned to see things that weren't naturally visible to an adult's eye.
Played with play-dough, because it lead to conversations and connections that we talk about to this day.
Made Bacondogeronis or mac and cheese, because it's what they wanted and kids should get what they want as often as possible.
Drove to three stores at 10:00pm to get ice cream, because it taught me patience and demonstrated that their needs were valued.
Listened to the TV on volume 30 and on volume 10, because little ears hear different than big ears and it's good for the big ears to be reminded of that once in a while.
Listened, said "yes", played, touched, breathed . . . because they needed me to.
In short, I am grateful that my kids all seem to still want me around to love and talk to, and that they love me in way that works best for them. Forget the cards, the presents, and the restriction of gifts to the third Sunday in June; I'll take the benefit, the exceptional privilege, and the overwhelming joy of being a Dad every day of the year. Thanks, Kai, Kade, and Annie, for making my life the most amazing one I could have imagined. I love you.