You’re a pain in the ass.
If I were a single parent, some moments would seem easier. You question my approach sometimes, you ask me why I care how they decorate the Christmas tree, you encourage me to consider whether it matters that they’re going to get their shoes muddy doing something, whether it hurts anything for them to stomp around upstairs. You make me think, darn you for doing it, and you remind me to focus on what matters and let go of what seriously doesn’t. You make me a better parent.
You’re also a pain because you are teaching our kids how to be brave without being fearless
how to be open to trying new things
and do cool stuff
Roasting marshmallows in the fireplace because why not?
how to be good to each other so they can learn to form friendships with other humans
and that’s the kind of parenting that helps kids grow up with the confidence to travel far away from their mothers, damn your eyes.
You teach them how to use powerful, dangerous weapons like fire and knives and your unique form of creative derisive sarcasm that borders on nonsense.
You’re also a pain because you’re darn near impossible to photograph for these yearly posts! When you aren’t running away from the camera, moving to the side of the frame at the last second, hiding behind an innocent child or animal and/or ninja-style crouching in the bushes, you see the camera and make a grotesque face that ruins the picture.
The pictures don’t matter. What matters is that just by doing all of the things you do, you have earned credibility with the ultimate skeptic, our child who from a young age was pretty sure we were con artists out to get him.
At this point you could convince him to try anything, believe anything, do anything because over hundreds and hundreds of days he came to realize that you know a lot of cool stuff and that your idea of fun is usually a close match with his own.
And Graham, oh Graham knows you so well because he IS YOU in so many ways. You never had to earn his trust — he already knows that you’re going to keep him safe and help him explore the world.
Just like he knows when you’re full of it — he knows because he is just as silly, just as deadpan, just as willing to stand by the humor of a situation and defend his actions based on their hilarity.
“Hey, you guys it’s time to race! Run all the way down this hill and across the field and across the other field to the second sidewalk way over there and back. Ready? Set?”
“There. We did it four times like you said. Why… am I… so… tired?”
Your kids look for you.
At least once a day while you’re at work, Graham shouts “Daddy!” and turns to show you something. “Wait — where’s Daddy?”
“He’s at work.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot!”
You aren’t goofy all of the time. You stress out, you worry, you imagine small problems to be big problems, you worry that temporary stuff is permanent stuff, you extrapolate to the worst case and then add 20% suckiness and worry about that. Did I mention that you’re a pain in the ass?
Maybe Nicolaus takes after you just a little bit. This is a picture he drew predicting how the day was going to go for himself and Graham.
But you try to balance it out. You’re aware of it and are willing to reshape your entire life based on trusting me and keeping us happy and safe. You’re like a pilot that develops vertigo when things get foggy; you start to panic then get a grip, look at your instruments, and follow them even when your brain is telling you lies. I know that’s scary and difficult to do, but you are brave without being fearless. Thank you for trying to set aside your worried mind so you can experience this big life with me. Thank you for working so hard and for being so loving and appreciative towards me. Thanks for buying me a crazy house, the house that Why Not built.
Ready to feel old? A little over ten years ago we were in Texas and I was crying. I had given up hope of ever getting pregnant, I had started timidly bookmarking adoption websites, but that’s not why I was crying. I was crying because of nothing, I was crying because of losing a stray kitten that I didn’t even want. I was crying a hormonal flood and you hugged me very kindly.
TEN years ago I said, “Do you want to see something really freaky?”
And you said, “Um. In the bathroom?”
It was a pregnancy test, and you were overjoyed because you were going to be a father! And because I hadn’t called you in there to see a poop the shape of the Eifel Tower.
And that was it, that was the end of our quiet little life. Life swelled up in that one moment, it got huge and it keeps getting bigger, the bigger the kids get, the more we learn about them and us and the world.
Happy father’s day, you.