Sunday, June 15, 2014

On Father's Day

Physically, it’s pretty damn easy for a man to father a child. I mean, really, it is. I know that now more than ever, from experience.

The harder part is being a father. It’s being just the right balance of disciplined and loving, of strict and fair. It’s imposing a good set of values on your kids without imposing your own preconceived judgments and other opinions that might negatively affect their growth and development. And more than anything, it’s showing up…. not just for baseball games and dance recitals, but for everyday life. For the first steps, the bad days at school, the broken hearts and skinned knees.

Not long after I learned we had a bun in the oven, I received a Facebook message from a friend that broke my heart. She was out of town with her fiance to celebrate his birthday, and she’d gotten emotional when she saw a father and daughter enjoying themselves in the restaurant together. Clueless, I asked why. She explained that, many years after her own father abandoned her family, it’s still a little hard to see fathers being good to their daughters. It makes her emotional.

For some reason, her dad decided one day that he couldn’t handle being a husband or a dad. So he left them. He left her even though she was a kid and she needed him.

And that’s when it hit me….and I mean, really hit me….that the little girl I’m carrying is so damn lucky. Because my husband isn’t capable of that. He will never leave her.

I’d like to believe that Mr. W and I will last forever. I mean, it sure looks that way….we’re about to celebrate nine years of marriage and despite a metric ton of crap the world has thrown at us, we’re still going strong. But I know that nothing in life is guaranteed. I’d probably bet on us on the tables in Vegas, because I like our odds, but I wouldn’t, like, bet my life on it or anything because that’s just silly.

But I do know with great certainty that, no matter what happens with us―even if we fall out of love, even if he decides he can no longer tolerate my utter craziness, if I decide one day that his epic rants and skewed world view are more than I can bear, or if he falls in love with some sexy stick thin bombshell named Celeste and decides to be with her (that fucking bitch, Celeste)―he will never, ever abandon our little girl. Not ever.

I realize that’s pretty ballsy of me to say, especially after saying that nothing in life is guaranteed. And this is, of course, barring some unforeseen catastrophe like mental illness or something even worse I can’t think about. But my husband, in his right mind and of sound body, would never, ever abandon our daughter. That’s something I WOULD bet my life on.

Perhaps it’s because he has spent every day of the last 13 ½ years loving me, cherishing me and respecting me. When he has fucked up, he has admitted it, and he has learned from it. He has always been especially respectful of women, from his mother to my mother and every single one of my friends. He has supported my dreams, even when they have been crazy. And even when he could have, he has never given up on me. I know he’ll be that way with her.

In some ways, he’s already a father. He was a great daddy to our dog for eleven years, even when he didn’t think he was. The first thing he said to me when I tearfully showed him my positive pregnancy test was, “It’s OK. We’re in this together.” He spends every evening with his hands on my belly so he doesn’t miss a single kick. He takes an active role in discussions on how we will and won’t raise our daughter because he cares. He already understands the important role fatherhood will play in bringing her up, and he’s ready to take it on full force even though I know it scares the hell out of him.

I have worried and stressed about a lot of things during my pregnancy, even though I promised myself I wouldn’t. But unexpected things have come up since January that have drained my energy, my emotions, my bank account and my positivity. It happens, and I’m doing the best I can to recover. But I have never—not once, not even a little bit—questioned the man I chose to be the father of my child. That is one area where I know I did the right thing. And I can’t think of a bigger blessing than that. Knowing that he will always be there for our little girl, knowing that she will grow up having a father who loves her more than his own life, is the greatest gift I could ever receive, and it makes everything else seem just a little less terrifying and stressful.

Mr. W thinks I have the hard part because I have to endure pregnancy and childbirth. And I admit, there are days when I would kill to eat a dozen oysters, drink a dirty martini followed by a bottle of wine, go out and drunkenly dance my ass off until 2 AM and pass out on my stomach without once waking up to pee. And I won’t even get into the terror of labor. But honestly, after thinking of my own upbringing and how my father being so present in my life affected the way I turned out, after witnessing the sadness my friend STILL feels after her father abandoned her as a child despite the fact that she’s done so much to heal herself, and after reading up on just how much a father’s role matters—I kind of think he has the hard part.

But he’s going to nail it. I know he is. And that’s why I will spend every Father’s Day from today until I die honoring him, cherishing him and reminding him of how much he means to his girls. I hope I will do this every day, of course. But on this day, his day, I will never forget.

But seriously, if you see that bitch Celeste, tell her to step off.


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