Each of these men faced a choice about what kind of dad they wanted to be. They made decisions at various times in their life what kind of presence they would hold for their children.
These fathers I think of provided for their families by working hard every day, sometimes at a job that only served as a means to pay for the mortgage and electricity. A job that didn’t serve them in any other way. They then dedicated countless hours after long days of work to show their love and devotion.
Sometimes this was spent coaching sports teams, or cheering in the stands. Sometimes this meant asking for a few hours off work to attend the parent teacher conferences. They watched band or choir concerts instead of watching their favorite sports team on TV. They loaded the car full of camping gear, only to unload it and spend hours building up the campsite for a few days of family fun. They woke at the break of dawn to pack ski gear into the family car and then lugged the gear up the mountain for the little ones. They’ve spent vacation days driving for hours on end to take their children on family trips. They attended dance recitals instead of working through the ‘honey do’ list that grew longer by the minute.
They wiped away the tears after a scraped knee and cradled the broken hearted. They are the protectors, the providers, and the pillars of strength.
There are so many wonderful dads I have met over the years, but I would like to spend a moment to honor a few.
He has built his business from the ground up. Taken risks and worked hard to provide for his family. He dedicates countless hours to ensure his family has the best opportunities in life. Most importantly, he has never used his work to distract him from his most valued position as a dad. He has coached more of his kid’s basketball teams than I care to count, and taken the kids on more inner tubing boat rides than I care to join. Not only has he prioritized his children above all else, he has loved his nieces and nephews as if they were his own. We have been blessed beyond measure from his love and devotion.
I’ve never known a dad who enjoys being a father more than he. His three kids have always been included in his adventures and zest for life. He works countless hours to provide for his family, but ALWAYS makes the time to share a video or recent pictures of his kids. He was just as excited to watch his daughters dance as he was to watch his son play football. Whether it is building a boat, fixing the car, or hiking across Spain for a trip of a lifetime, he has created a life full of richness in adventures for his children.
For years, I had no doubt Birdy would be an amazing father. However, the dad he is today far surpassed anything I could have imagined. The love and devotion he shows his daughter is nothing short of admirable. From brushing her hair and helping her get ready for school, to building forts in the living room and hiking in the outdoors, I’ve never seen a dad who has more fun hanging with his little buddy. I watch him and I cannot help but think he has achieved this perfect balance. He parents with a patient and firm hand, but loves devoutly with the softest of hearts.
When I first started dating my husband I was afraid what his parents would think. Dating a single mother may not have been what they planned for. Mike worked countless hours and sacrificed to provide his only son with a costly, private education. He had done everything within his power to create opportunities for Ryan. I was afraid how I and my kids would fit into the vision he had for his son. Mike has not only accepted and loved me and my children as if we were his own, he has devoted more hours than I could have ever anticipated sitting in the baseball stands and choir auditoriums to support his grandchildren. We are humbly blessed by his acceptance, love and unwavering devotion.
Over the years my kids have played soccer, basketball, baseball and football. These coaches have dedicated hours on end to lead my kids through the formative years in their life. They taught them the skill of the game, but more importantly the coaches taught them some of the most valuable lessons in life. Work hard. Support your team. Show up on time. Be responsible. Be disciplined. Respect your peers. Respect your leaders. Win and lose equally with grace. I can never adequately express my appreciation for the leaders in my kid’s life who have left a profound and lasting impact on who they are today.
I’ve written many times about my father. Nothing I can write here will come close to illustrating what I feel in my heart when I think of him. He encapsulated everything I wrote about and listed above, but there is more. There is an indescribable feeling I have when I think of who he was, and how blessed I am to have him as my dad. I can’t capture it in a sentence or a paragraph. The best I can do in this moment is write a series of words that remind me of my dad. Present. Loving. Fair. Funny. Provider. Patient. Stern. Dedicated. Tireless. Hard worker. Selfless. Diplomatic. Disarming. Social. Compassionate. Protective. Generous. Devoted. Missed terribly.
When my husband and I first started dating, he spent several months playing hard to get. He took a very long time to tell me he loved me and commit to being in a serious relationship. He has always been a prudent person who had personal rules and plans for his life. Dating a single mother was not part of the vision he had built for himself. He knew dating me was not something he could take lightly. If he was ‘in’, he was ‘all in.’
Once my husband made a decision to be a part of our lives, he has done so with unwavering love and dedication. He has sacrificed and devoted so much of himself to be the best father figure he can possibly be. You will never attend a choir concert, a talent show, a baseball game and not see Ryan sitting by my side. He has worked hard to provide for our family, and worked even harder to create opportunities for all of us.
He has anticipated the needs of Austin and Ryanne and generously given to them when even I didn’t see what it was they might need. He has loved them without restraint. His heart has ached for them when he has seen them struggle. He has lain awake at night thinking about them.
His goals of being retired at age 40, living in his downtown loft and driving his Aston Martin were replaced with an Audi station wagon, a dog and a suburban existence. He will tell you today, he loves his life. It has filled him with a richness he had not anticipated.
But what he can’t tell you is how Austin, Ryanne and I feel about the contribution he has made to our three lives. Our lives are complete. Our cups are full. Our home is safe and loving. Our hearts are grateful. Our love for Ryan is immeasurable.