With the opening day of the new superman movie, "Man of Steel" and Father's Day vast approaching, I have a confession to make...
...I take my husband for granted.
Or rather, to be more specific, I often take my husband's fathering skills for granted.
You see, my husband did not have the best example to follow for how to be a good father. Without going into detail, suffice it to say that there has been a lot of disappointment in the fatherhood department. Contact over the years has been minimal; it has not been deep. It has not been fulfilling.
I have cried many tears over it. My husband has none left.
You would think that a lack of a present and caring father in my husband's life would make him detached, distant, cold, and harsh with his own children.
In fact, he is the complete opposite.
He is completely involved in each of their four little lives. He can make dinner, give baths and type out a Facebook status like a parental pro. He reads "The Last Unicorn" to his daughters to share his love of fantasy novels, and builds hot wheel and marble tracks with his sons to display his feats of engineering.
He is unafraid to wade into the bog of "Teaching Your Pre-teen About Reproduction" when his eldest daughter was adamant about understanding "what is this sex thing all about". He is equally unafraid to clean up the vomit-coated toys in the toy box when his son was unable to get to the bathroom in time.
I was able to confidently leave him with three little dependent people for 10 days when I went on a trip to Africa and he survived! The house was even clean when I came home. He can do everything I can do as a mom -- and some even better!
Simply put...he is a loving and engaged father.
I still marvel at that.
How is possible that a man with virtually no good example of what a be-there-everyday-clean-up-after-my-child-without-complaint, could be that very thing?
And the more I have thought about it, I have come to realize that I know many such I-can't-believe-how-awesome-he-is kind of fathers. In an age where fathers have rapidly left the picture, many have chosen to plant their feet and be what they have not had the opportunity to see firsthand.
Here are my thoughts on how this phenomenon occurs:
1.) Never underestimate the power of a praying mother, grandmother, grandfather, etc. I know this to be true for my husband. His own mother and others were committed to pray that he would know the love of God as a heavenly father, and that he would be loved by fathers along the way that would show him a Godly and loving example of fatherhood. I also know that she prayed that he would marry into a family with such a father.
2.) They are able to see the issues and failings of their own father, forgive them and figure out how not to do the same thing. Introspection is key. The successful fathers I know that have not had a great example to follow have been able to honestly face up to the lack, mourn it, allow God to heal it, forgive it and then purpose to be a different kind of dad.
3.) They have determined and planned how to do things differently with their own children. Similar to what I listed above, this goes beyond "seeing" the problem, but actually planning on how to do things differently. That old adage rings true: "fail to plan...plan to fail." The successful dads I know have already thought through how they will parent in certain scenarios. They have also asked friends and family to help them to stay accountable and engaged with their children. I love this about them!
And...unfortunately, I know a few not-so-good fathers who have come from some of the best there are out there. Once again, I see that being a lovingly engaged father comes down to a choice to be that very thing.
4.) They pray, pray and then pray some more. We all know that parenting is one of the toughest gigs out there. For those men who have not had a good example of fatherhood and in fact, may have had a terrible example of fatherhood, the very idea of being that man terrifies them and brings them to their knees on a constant basis.
5.) They marry a wife that believes that they are more than their childhood would say they could be. If there is anything I've learned about marriage over the past 14 years is that a husband needs to be a rock star, super hero, and an MVP in their wife and family's eyes. There can never be too many words of affirmation, pats on the back or jobs well done. And this is even more true for a man who has had a lack of parental love, support and presence. If you believe in him, he will believe in himself.
I know that it's not this simple and formulaic, but I know these things to be true in my bones. I know many wonderful fathers who have risen above their own wretched experience and have become more. I know it has not been easy, but I know they have each made the choice to do it.
I admire it.
I respect it.
I am in awe of their dedication.
So, for all of you fathers out there who are choosing to be lovingly engaged in your children's life, I heartily cheer you on and celebrate you!
You deserve all the accolades of the finest athlete and biggest super hero!
And to my husband...honey, you are our "man of steel" and you are loved.
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