“ANNA BOOK! ANNA BOOK! ANNA BOOK!”
This is the chant every evening as we climb the stairs to put our 2-year-olds to bed.
My husband sighs and hems and haws, but in a joking, loving tone. He then sits on the floor cross-legged and both babies back up until their bottoms are both in his lap. And they look at the Frozen book. The book my husband hates. The book from the movie that my husband is sick of. And yet, he does it night after night and has the sweetest conversations with the same questions and answers he has every night for 3 months now. Because he is a good dad.
He comes upstairs in the morning as we are getting dressed and greets the day with the three of us, as the kids yell, “WHERE DADA HI DADA!” when he busts into the room with his giant grin. Because he is a good dad.
He encourages me to sleep for another hour on the weekends if I really want to and plays with the kids downstairs, squealing and flying and tickling too loudly, so that my tired body containing my bursting heart insists on going down to see them anyway because it is so sweet. Because he is a good dad.
He shot me up and took me to appointments when we were going through IVF. He got me food I craved and tried to make me as comfortable as possible. He made me laugh. He makes me laugh. He gets a little smile on his face when he knows he’s really made me laugh and it thrills him. It tickles me to see it creep across his face. He’s there. He’s ALWAYS there. And he listens. He would say he’s a much better listener to me than I am to him, and he would be right. I am trying harder. Because he wants to be a good dad.
He held our babies first. I was too delirious after my c-section and 24 hours of trying to deliver them, he was delirious too, but he got to hold them. He got the first look and the first hold and the first pictures. He brought them to me. To my side. To my breast. To my lips. And I am forever grateful he had those moments. He didn’t know what it was like to hold them inside for 38 weeks, but he got to hold them outside first. Because he is a good dad.
He goes to work every day. He suits up and shows up without fail. He is a worker among workers and he keeps his head down to get his job done and come home to us. He needs to get his creative juices flowing again because he is too talented, too rich, too smart, too funny, too incredibly gifted to not be doing something out in the world for the benefit of an audience. The world misses him when he’s not out there. He needs to feed his creative soul. We all do. Separate from each other in order to make us all more whole. He is so encouraging of my writing because he knows. But he’s taken a self imposed break because of his family. Because he feels like he needs to be present. Because he is a good dad.
He gets frustrated. He gets tired. He gets overcome with too much to do and too little time. He wants to do all the projects in the house yet we have two little ones and jobs and then, just, we have our lives and what we love to spend our time doing together and he rests. He encourages me to rest. He talks me down from the ledge of feeling pressured to get too much done and calms my nerves. Because he is a good dad.
He talks rationally with our kids. He patiently answers their questions even when they are utter nonsense. Because he’s a good dad.
He insists that our kids are the cutest, sweetest, kindest, and yet, can also say, our boy was being a jerk when he pushed her. He has objectivity that I sometimes lack when I look at my kids. He helps me be realistic when I am off in my dreamland and pulls me back down from the clouds where I like to reside forever and ever in blissland. There are days, they are few, but there are days where we both just WANT THEM TO GO TO BED ALREADY and the looks we give each other and high fives after they go down accompanied by hugs and affirmations are the greatest. Just slithering into the horizontal position. We have the most fun. Because he’s a good dad.
He runs downstairs when he hears me raise my voice with the kids. Because he knows it doesn’t happen. Ever. I don’t raise my voice with my kids if I can help it. And he knows. So he jumps in to diffuse the situation. And it helps. And I’m thankful. Because he’s a good dad.
He’s the shoveler of the snow. He’s the DADA ON CHOO CHOO. He’s the grocery shopper. He’s the hunter and the gatherer. He’s the provider of all our food that comes into our home each week and we all let out cries of joy when he brings in the abundance. We also squeal because I haven’t set foot in a grocery store for any real reason in 3 years. He’s the guy who cleans up and the guy who plays with the kids so much sometimes that the mess increases. He’s the guy who takes care of the cat litter and scooping the poop (BECAUSE HE IS SO GOOD AT IT). He’s the guy who listens to their mother and helps get everything ready for our next adventure whether it be at home or getting everything packed up and ready to go. Jackets on, car seats belts clicked and safe and off we go! Because he’s a good dad.
He’s the strength and the calm. He’s the dependability and the rock. He’s the straight man and the voice of reason. He’s the fun. He’s the giver of no shits. He’s the man. He’s my man. He’s their man. Always. Because he’s a good dad.
Men get a bad rap. AND MANY SHOULD. As should many women. Terrible people are terrible. But men get made fun of a lot by women. Some rightly so, but a lot of it is just out of boredom and unhappiness I think. Good men are out there. Men who want a family and want to be present. And as much as I encourage women building other women up, I encourage building men up too. I’m a big fan of good men. Just like good men are big fans of good women. It’s gotta go both ways. Respect. I love my husband. Wildly. Because he’s a good dad.
He would do more if I let him. I am such an obsessive mama that I like to have control. But he knows all the things. He knows how to do all the things and take care of all the things. He knows. And he does it every day and every night. Because he’s there and shows up. I’m home much more just due to my schedule, so I’m with them more, but he is the dad. He is the only dad. He will always be the dad. There is no other person on the planet that applies to for my kids. I think of the relationship my dad and I have and it’s so deep and long and vast and to think my kids have this forever with him just makes me so thankful. They have a good dad. A dad who knows his flaws and imperfections and works on them. A dad who takes responsibility and says he’s sorry. Who loves their mama without reservation and makes her laugh always. Because he’s a good dad.
He’s not just the fun dad or the serious dad or the dependable dad. He’s all those things. Because he’s a good dad.
I really really love this man. I really really like this man. Even when we fight. Even when we argue and do our best to not name call and fight fair, it still hurts. If we didn’t care so damn much it wouldn’t hurt. Marriage can be difficult. Parenting can be difficult for sure. But when you are happy to be in the life you are in, even when it’s difficult, that’s rare. Our kids watch us. They stop and look at us when we hug each other. They smile. They see that we love each other. They show that behavior towards each other. It’s contagious. Kindness is contagious. Just as negativity and awfulness is contagious. We must be careful. We are responsible. He plans romantic date nights for us with babysitting planned out. I’m getting better about planning some too. It’s important. Because he’s a good dad.
Let me tell you, KIDS WILL RUIN THE MARRIAGE YOU ONCE HAD. In all the very best ways. Many folks tell me I’m lucky to have a husband who is such a good dad and does all the things. I am lucky, in many ways, but men being around and doing all these things with their kids should be the norm and not the exception. I do my part and he does his. That’s just the way it is. I am grateful we both get to do all the things. We appreciate each other. This is one way I can show that appreciation.
Grab your mate. Grab your partner. Grab your kids. This family is everything. This time right now is everything. My dad wasn’t around a lot growing up, but when he was around, he was THERE. You know what I’m saying? Dads can travel and dads can have shared custody and dads come in all shapes and sizes. There are a million ways to be a good dad. When they try so hard and want to be better and a good husband and father, they are good men. They are not to be taken for granted, as none of us are to be taken for granted. Because good men should be celebrated and appreciated, not made fun of and belittled and made to feel expendable. They’re not. They’re important and loved and needed and I am so thankful for this good good man. He makes me feel important and perfect just as I am and at the same time he makes me want to be better. He wants his kids to be confident and loved and safe. He wants everything for them. Because he’s a damn good dad.
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