To the dad who carpools and coaches, who stays up until curfew and runs next to the bicycle without training wheels: Don’t underestimate the power you have as a present father. Your consistent involvement is admirable, but far beyond that, know that your influence will affect your children into adulthood. It’s the collection of hundreds of little moments- chaperoning his field trip or brushing her hair after the bath- that will bring them successfully to the brink of adulthood. And before you know it, they’ll be grown and gone, ready to take on the world, knowing they can spread their wings because they had a dad who pushed them out of the nest with an enormous amount of love.
To the dad who just welcomed a new baby- ankle deep in diapers, bleary-eyed and exhausted, and so, so proud: Whether you’re holding your first or your fourth, congratulations on your beautiful miracle. You’ll almost certainly mess up in this parenting gig, at least twice by 2:30, but press on, keep going because we’re all cheering for you. Celebrate this Father’s Day squeezing the little hand that has managed to completely take hold of your heart. After all.. babies don’t keep.
To the dad who spends this Father’s Day weary from illness and medication: You have a crew that couldn’t be prouder of your strength and bravery. You’ve proven that neither bandages nor IVs, pills nor their side effects, hospital stays, diagnoses, or ongoing treatments could keep you from being an incredible dad, one who somehow still has the fortitude and humor to challenge us to arm wrestle, even with an IV port in your arm. Fighting for your health has reminded the whole family that every day is a gift, and it’s with that in mind, that your children celebrate you on Father’s Day, letting you win that arm wrestle just this once.
To the dad of multiples whose remarkable super powers qualify him to join the Avengers Initiative: It’s okay to operate on adrenaline 95% of the time to make sure all the children are in all the right places. You experience the emotions associated with each stage of childhood multiplied by two (or three or four..!): joy, confusion, surprise, exhaustion, hopefulness, frustration, love. What a privilege you’ve been given to be their dad and what a gift it is that they have you too.
To the dad whose children have no trace of his biological DNA, yet are every part of who he is: Happy Father’s Day. I know it doesn’t matter that your kids don’t have your eyes or your height, or maybe even your skin color; they don’t have to share your physical features to be entirely deserving of your love. Others may call you a “foster dad” or an “adoptive dad”, but at home, it sounds so much simpler: “Dad”. You’re a good one, and they’re so lucky to have you.
To the dad who regrets his mistakes and all the time lost with his children: Today is a new day. In fact, it’s your new day. Make the decision to forgive yourself before you expect anyone else to extend forgiveness. Be the father you wish you could’ve been starting today, by giving your kids the gift of time and attention. Pick up the phone. Go to their game. Write the letter. Tell them you’re proud. Ask for forgiveness. You can never recapture all of those years gone by, but you can mend those relationships by making today count.
To the single dad feeling equal parts overwhelmed and empowered: You are walking a tough road, but you’re doing such a great job. You’re facing the challenge of being in charge of lunches and bedtimes and the discipline and all the sick days like a real man- accomplishing it with determination, wearing the dandelion flower crown your kid made for you at the park. It’s no secret that your children are your most important priority; that’s easily seen by the wonderful way you’re raising them. What you’re doing is far from easy, but so very worth it.
To the dad who celebrates Father’s Day as a proud father and grandfather: The full life you’ve lived is never more evident than when you’re surrounded by the energy and youth of your family. We all know you’re also the dad that signs his name at the end of text messages, which is entirely unnecessary but amusing. You may not have any clue what “Juju on That Beat” means or understand the point of a fidget spinner, but you’ve taught your family everything else they know, which obviously means they can light a fire without matches and farting will always be funny.
To those of you who celebrate Father’s Day with a twinge of envy and a hint of grief, relying solely on memories for this type of day: I stand with you. This summer will mark a decade since my dad’s funeral. This last one’s for you, Dad.
To the dad whose legacy lives on in his children, gone but never forgotten: If you could see your kids now, I think you’d be impressed. They’re not so little anymore- taller, older- with beautiful families of their own. Your memory lives on, even in your absence. Every pasta dish, each church service, basketball game, or dad joke, you’re there. Your kids have your sense of humor- dry and quirky but clever and carefree. They miss you everyday, but especially today. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.
A very happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing dads out there. May today include the giant steak dinner you so very deserve.